User Account Creation


This is intended as guide to anyone who needs to create an account while the system manager is unavailable. You will need the root password to the and machines. They are known to Mark Birkinshaw and Mark Taylor and are stored in Science and Engineering FITS team keypass system.

Important considerations:

This is how ordinary user accounts are created on the Astrophysics system. First edit the script /root/useradd_staff_postgrad on

You will need a username, uid and the full name. check spelling and get uid from using the finger and id commands. We tend to assume /bin/bash as the default shell. 'source' the script and it will produce an useradd line eg

usr/sbin/useradd -g users -d /home/hwakeford -s /bin/bash -m -k /etc/skel/ -c 'Hannah Wakeford' hwakeford
Run this line on the home disk server (currently and on The master copy of the accounts are stored in /etc/passwd and to some extent /etc/shadow on aquila. UoB usernames and passwords can be authenticated against active directory, non-UoB names won't resolve.

For non UoB names (sometimes this is necessary for UoB ones if authentication problems occur) create a password using mkpasswd from the expect package, eg

[root@mme-desktop ~]# mkpasswd -l 10
Send passwd to user with instructions to change it immediately. Eg
Hi new user,

OK, your temporary password for the hwakeford account is below. Please log in to and change it immediately using the passwd command. 


Please let me know when you've done this, as I can then copy your password to other systems you may want to use.

To copy the user accounts to new computer, or to update an existing one, run the script below on the new computer.


If you get this error:
useradd: user 'vq21447' already exists
then check if user is already in /etc/passwd, if not the system is getting the username from the UoB directory. So in order to create a local account, you need to edit /etc/nsswitch on the machine producing the error. Change the line
passwd files sss
or similar to
passwd files
temporarily to allow the useradd command to work. Then change it back again.
Rhys Morris
Last modified: Friday, 14 July 2023