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Using command line commands for users administration in AIX

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See also

Redbooks IBM Links Recommended Links Using Smit
mkuser chuser chsh chfn lsuser passwd
chpasswd pwdadm rmuser      
Useful AIX commands smit sudo Tips Humor Etc

Now that you are familiar with the files behind the commands, take a look at the commands themselves. You'll learn how to create a user as well as modify a user after it has been created.

mkuser

The first command to know is mkuser. Without mkuser, the rest of the commands are useless. You use this command to create the AIX user and set its initial values. There are a few simple rules to remember when creating a user:

To verify the setting in AIX 5.3 and later, you can extract the value from getconf:

# getconf LOGIN_NAME_MAX
9
or lsattr:
# lsattr -El sys0

SW_dist_intr    false              Enable SW distribution of interrupts              True
autorestart     true               Automatically REBOOT OS after a crash             True
boottype        disk               N/A                                               False
capacity_inc    1.00               Processor capacity increment                      False
capped          true               Partition is capped                               False
conslogin       enable             System Console Login                              False
cpuguard        enable             CPU Guard                                         True
dedicated       true               Partition is dedicated                            False
enhanced_RBAC   true               Enhanced RBAC Mode                                True
ent_capacity    1.00               Entitled processor capacity                       False
frequency       2656000000         System Bus Frequency                              False
fullcore        true               Enable full CORE dump                             True
fwversion       IBM,EL340_075      Firmware version and revision levels              False
id_to_partition 0X80000CE988400001 Partition ID                                      False
id_to_system    0X80000CE988400000 System ID                                         False
iostat          false              Continuously maintain DISK I/O history            True
keylock         normal             State of system keylock at boot time              False
log_pg_dealloc  true               Log predictive memory page deallocation events    True
max_capacity    1.00               Maximum potential processor capacity              False
max_logname     9                  Maximum login name length at boot time            True
maxbuf          20                 Maximum number of pages in block I/O BUFFER CACHE True
maxmbuf         0                  Maximum Kbytes of real memory allowed for MBUFS   True
maxpout         0                  HIGH water mark for pending write I/Os per file   True
maxuproc        800                Maximum number of PROCESSES allowed per user      True
min_capacity    1.00               Minimum potential processor capacity              False
minpout         0                  LOW water mark for pending write I/Os per file    True
modelname       IBM,8203-E4A       Machine name                                      False
ncargs          256                ARG/ENV list size in 4K byte blocks               True
nfs4_acl_compat secure             NFS4 ACL Compatibility Mode                       True
pre430core      false              Use pre-430 style CORE dump                       True
pre520tune      disable            Pre-520 tuning compatibility mode                 True
realmem         3784704            Amount of usable physical memory in Kbytes        False
rtasversion     1                  Open Firmware RTAS version                        False
sed_config      select             Stack Execution Disable (SED) Mode                True
systemid        IBM,021082744      Hardware system identifier                        False
variable_weight 0                  Variable processor capacity weight                False

To change the value, simply adjust the v_max_logname parameter (shown as max_logname in lsattr) using chdev to the maximum number of characters desired plus one to accommodate the terminating character. For example, if you want to have user names that are 128 characters long, you would adjust the v_max_logname parameter to 129:

# chdev -l sys0 -a max_logname=129
sys0 changed

Please note that this change will not go into effect until you have rebooted the operating system. Once the server has been rebooted, you can verify that the change has taken effect:

# getconf LOGIN_NAME_MAX
128

Keep in mind, however, that if your environment includes IBM RS/6000® servers prior to AIX version 5.3 or operating systems that cannot handle user names longer than eight characters and you rely on NIS or other authentication measures, it would be wise to continue with the eight-character user names.

To create a user with default settings and allocate the next available UID, simply execute mkuser plus the user name as the root user:

# mkuser xander
# finger xander
Login name: xander
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.

By adding some values found in the chuser man page (man chuser), you can include the user's GECOS information and change his or her core ulimit to 524,288, as  in example below:

# mkuser core=524288 gecos="Xander Cormany,317.555.1234" xander
# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.

# su - xander "-c ulimit -a"
time(seconds)        unlimited
file(blocks)         unlimited
data(kbytes)         unlimited
stack(kbytes)        4194304
memory(kbytes)       unlimited
coredump(blocks)     524288
nofiles(descriptors) unlimited
threads(per process) unlimited
processes(per user)  unlimited
It's worth mentioning that the GECOS, like any other field in /etc/passwd, should not include a colon (:) in the value. By trying to add a colon, the fields will be adjusted, and all expected values would shift to the right. For instance, if the user tried to have Xander:Cormany in the GECOS field in /etc/passwd, Xander would actually be in the correct field, while Cormany would be the value of the field to the right (that is, the home directory). Also, the GECOS field cannot end with !#.

Most administrators do not really use the command line like this, but it is important to understand what utilities like SMIT (man smit or man smitty) are doing behind the scenes. If you would rather continue through SMIT, the process is simple. Here's an example of creating the same user with the same attributes through SMIT. By entering SMIT directly into the user creation screen, you go in using the fastpath mkuser:

# smitty mkuser
When you are finished filling out the user name, GECOS field, and core ulimit, click Enter to create the user. When SMIT returns that the command finished successfully, click F10 or Esc + 0 to exit the program. You can verify the user using the code:
	
# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.

# su - xander "-c ulimit -a"
time(seconds)        unlimited
file(blocks)         unlimited
data(kbytes)         unlimited
stack(kbytes)        4194304
memory(kbytes)       unlimited
coredump(blocks)     524288
nofiles(descriptors) unlimited
threads(per process) unlimited
processes(per user)  unlimited

chuser

The hard part is done now. But wait: Xander's manager, Ann, just came by and informed you that Xander's core ulimit should have been 1,048,576 (someone forgot to multiply by 2). No problem: Just change the ulimit with chuser.

The chuser command works very much like mkuser in syntax and uses the identical attributes. An example of the chuser command.

# chuser core=1048576 xander
# su - xander "-c ulimit -a"
time(seconds)        unlimited
file(blocks)         unlimited
data(kbytes)         unlimited
stack(kbytes)        4194304
memory(kbytes)       unlimited
coredump(blocks)     1048576
nofiles(descriptors) unlimited
threads(per process) unlimited
processes(per user)  unlimited
As always, IBM has made these commands easily accessible in SMIT using fastpaths. Logically, smitty chuser takes you directly to the user modification screen.

chsh

There are times when you want to change your shell. The default shell in AIX is the Korn shell, or ksh. To change the shell, execute chsh with the user's name, and then select the desired shell:

# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.

# chsh xander
 Current available shells:
                /bin/sh
                /bin/bsh
                /bin/csh
                /bin/ksh
                /bin/tsh
                /bin/ksh93
                /usr/bin/sh
                /usr/bin/bsh
                /usr/bin/csh
                /usr/bin/ksh
                /usr/bin/tsh
                /usr/bin/ksh93
                /usr/bin/rksh
                /usr/bin/rksh93
                /usr/sbin/uucp/uucico
                /usr/sbin/sliplogin
                /usr/sbin/snappd
 xander's current login shell:
                /usr/bin/ksh
 Change (yes) or (no)? > yes
 To?>/usr/bin/csh

# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/csh
No Plan.
 

chfn

The administrator who created Xander's AIX user introduced a typo into his name in the GECOS information. To correct the mistake, you use the chfn command. This command works much like chsh, where the command displays the current value, asks the user whether he or she wants to change it, and then changes the value to what was entered. For example:

	
# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Zander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.

# chfn xander
 xander's current gecos:
                "Zander Cormany,317.555.1234"
 Change (yes) or (no)? > yes
 To?>Xander Cormany,317.555.1234

# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.
 

Correcting the GECOS information may sound trivial, but it is helpful to the other administrators and users on the system. For example, if you're trying to find Xander's account but can't remember his user name, you could search for it through his GECOS information. Searching for his last name, which was correctly entered into the GECOS field, would quickly show me his user name. The finger command will search for all instances of the string entered in /etc/passwd's user name and real name in the first field of the GECOS information:

# finger cormany
Login name: atc                       In real life: Adam Cormany
Directory: /home/cormany                Shell: /bin/ksh
No Plan.

Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.1234
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/ksh
No Plan.

 

lsuser

Gathering all the information for a user from the various user files may seem cumbersome. Fortunately, AIX provides a command to gather the data in one fell swoop. The lsuser command returns all the attributes used on the user from the various administration files, which can be very helpful if you are comparing users, wanting to generate a complete listing of all users for backup purposes, or are troubleshooting an issue with an individual account.

To view a user's attributes, you can use the -f switch, which displays everything in a stanza structure:

# lsuser -f xander
xander:
        id=214
        pgrp=staff
        groups=staff
        home=/home/xander
        shell=/usr/bin/ksh
        gecos=Xander Cormany,317.555.1234
        login=true
        su=true
        rlogin=true
        daemon=true
        admin=false
        sugroups=ALL
        admgroups=
        tpath=nosak
        ttys=ALL
        expires=0
        auth1=SYSTEM
        auth2=NONE
        umask=22
        registry=files
        SYSTEM=compat
        logintimes=
        loginretries=0
        pwdwarntime=0
        account_locked=false
        minage=0
        maxage=0
        maxexpired=-1
        minalpha=0
        minother=0
        mindiff=0
        maxrepeats=8
        minlen=0
        histexpire=0
        histsize=0
        pwdchecks=
        dictionlist=
        default_roles=
        fsize=-1
        cpu=-1
        data=-1
        stack=-1
        core=1048576
        rss=-1
        nofiles=-1
        roles=

If you are comparing users, simply change the switch from -f to -c and add the users you want to compare as a comma-delimited argument.

# lsuser -c xander,atc

#name:id:pgrp:groups:home:shell:gecos:login:su:rlogin:daemon:admin:
sugroups:tpath:ttys:expires:auth1:auth2:umask:registry:SYSTEM:loginretries:
pwdwarntime:account_locked:minage:maxage:maxexpired:minalpha:minother:
mindiff:maxrepeats:minlen:histexpire:histsize:fsize:cpu:data:stack:core:rss:nofiles
xander:214:staff:staff:/home/xander:/usr/bin/ksh:Xander Cormany,317.555.1234:
true:true:true:true:false:ALL:nosak:ALL:0:SYSTEM:NONE:22:files:compat:0:0:false:
0:0:-1:0:0:0:8:0:0:0:-1:-1:-1:-1:1048576:-1:-1
#name:id:pgrp:groups:home:shell:gecos:login:su:rlogin:daemon:admin:sugroups:
tpath:ttys:expires:auth1:auth2:umask:registry:SYSTEM:loginretries:pwdwarntime:
account_locked:minage:maxage:maxexpired:minalpha:minother:mindiff:maxrepeats:
minlen:histexpire:histsize:fsize:cpu:data:stack:core:rss:nofiles:time_last_login:
time_last_unsuccessful_login:tty_last_login:tty_last_unsuccessful_login:host_last_login:
host_last_unsuccessful_login:unsuccessful_login_count
cormany:215:staff:staff,support:/home/cormany:/bin/ksh:Adam Cormany:true:true:
true:true:false:ALL:nosak:ALL:0:SYSTEM:NONE:22:NIS:compat:0:0:false:0:0:
-1:0:0:0:8:0:0:0:-1:-1:-1:-1:-1:-1:-1:1250854405:1250522447:/dev/pts/3:/dev/pts/13:
10.20.30.40:10.20.30.41:0

That is a lot of information to look at and may be a bit overwhelming in its raw form. However, if you import this data into a spreadsheet, it will look much cleaner. Having a delimited format is also helpful when you are using the data in scripts to manage users.

If you are only looking for a few fields—say, the user's shell and home directory—the lsuser command can do the work for you with the -a switch. Listing 13 provides an example of this command using the fields from the chuser man page.

# lsuser -c -a shell home xander,cormany
#name:shell:home
xander:/usr/bin/ksh:/home/xander
#name:shell:home
cormany:/bin/ksh:/home/cormany

passwd

Many think the passwd command only changes a user's password. Although passwd does perform this important function, it contains other features, as well.

The most important function of passwd is indeed changing a user's password. By following the rules set forth in the configuration files /etc/security/user and /etc/security/passwd, a standard user can change his or her own password or, if logged in as the root user, can change other users' passwords, for example:

# lsuser -c -a password xander
#name:password
xander:*

# passwd xander
Changing password for "xander"
xander's New password:
Enter the new password again:

# lsuser -c -a password xander
#name:password
xander:!

The passwd command can also change a user's GECOS information like chfn or his or her shell/command to execute during the login process, like chsh.  For example:

	
# passwd -f xander
 xander's current gecos:
                "Xander Cormany,317.555.1234"
 Change (yes) or (no)? > yes
 To?>Xander Cormany,317.555.7890

# passwd -s xander
 Current available shells:
                /bin/sh
                /bin/bsh
                /bin/csh
                /bin/ksh
                /bin/tsh
                /bin/ksh93
                /usr/bin/sh
                /usr/bin/bsh
                /usr/bin/csh
                /usr/bin/ksh
                /usr/bin/tsh
                /usr/bin/ksh93
                /usr/bin/rksh
                /usr/bin/rksh93
                /usr/sbin/uucp/uucico
                /usr/sbin/sliplogin
                /usr/sbin/snappd
 xander's current login shell:
                /usr/bin/ksh
 Change (yes) or (no)? > yes
 To?>/usr/bin/bsh

# finger xander
Login name: xander                    In real life: Xander Cormany
Site Info: 317.555.7890
Directory: /home/xander                 Shell: /usr/bin/bsh
No Plan.

 

pwdadm

The pwdadm command can change passwords in AIX. In addition, pwdadm can display (excluding encrypted passwords) or update a user's flags in /etc/security/passwd. Continuing with Xander's account as a guinea pig, First change his password, and then view his current password attributes. Because his password was just changed, the ADMCHG flag will be set. Change that flag to ADMIN, and restrict the account so that only administrators can update the password going forward.

	
# pwdadm xander
Changing password for "xander"
xander's New password:
Enter the new password again:

# pwdadm -q xander
xander:
        lastupdate = 1250858719
        flags = ADMCHG

# pwdadm -f ADMIN xander

# pwdadm -q xander
xander:
        lastupdate = 1250858719
        flags = ADMIN

rmuser

The time has come to remove a user from the system; Xander's account must be deleted. To do so, you need rmuser.

To remove a user, simply execute rmuser with the user's account name as the argument. Doing so with no switches removes the user from the system, but the user's password information will be retained in the /etc/security/passwd file:

# rmuser xander

To fully remove the user's password information, use the -p switch:

# rmuser –p xander

 

Note that rmuser does not remove the user's home directory. If a user has important data in his or her home directory that should be kept, it is up to you to remove the home directories when you deem it safe.

Groups

You're familiar with a few user modification commands; now, let's talk about groups. Like user administration, it's important that you know the configuration files behind the commands that modify them.

/etc/group

The /etc/group file contains the basics of a group. For example:

	
system:!:0:root,pconsole,esaadmin
staff:!:1:ipsec,esaadmin,sshd,xander
bin:!:2:root,bin
sys:!:3:root,bin,sys
adm:!:4:bin,adm
uucp:!:5:uucp,nuucp
mail:!:6:
security:!:7:root
cron:!:8:root
printq:!:9:lp
audit:!:10:root
ecs:!:28:
nobody:!:4294967294:nobody,lpd
perf:!:20:
shutdown:!:21:
lp:!:11:root,lp
invscout:!:12:invscout
snapp:!:13:snapp
ipsec:!:200:
pconsole:!:14:pconsole
sshd:!:201:sshd

 

As you can see, the file is colon delimited like the /etc/passwd file, and each entry contains only four fields in the following format (with spaces added before and after the delimiter to ease reading):

Group Name : Password Flag : GID : User(s)

Here's the line-by-line breakdown:

/etc/security/group

The /etc/security/group file is much like /etc/security/user for users: It contains extended attributes to the specified group:

Parameter Format Description
adms user1, user2, … Comma-delimited list of users with administrative rights to the group.
admin TRUE | FALSE If True, the group has administrative rights to the group.

For more attributes, read the man page for /etc/security/group (man group), or visit http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/pseries/v5r3/index.jsp?topic=/com.ibm.aix.files/doc/aixfiles/group.htm.

The file is broken down into stanzas like the other configuration files in /etc/security, with the group name as the identifier. A nice feature of this file is that it allows you to set administrator rights to a standard user for a group. The administrators of that group can then modify the group as they see fit by adding members to or removing members from the group. Listing 18 provides an example of what an /etc/security/group looks like. In this example, the group jradmin has admin set to False and standard users pac and xander defined as administrators of the group.

For example:
	
system:
        admin = true

staff:
        admin = false

bin:
        admin = true

sys:
        admin = true

jradmin:
        admin = false
        adms = pac,xander

A few more commands

You've read enough about the files behind the commands. Now, let's look at the commands themselves. You'll see how to create a group as well as modify it after it has been created.

mkgroup

Creating a group in AIX is simple and straightforward. The same restrictions for creating a user pertain to creating a group:

Both user and group name lengths are handled by the same parameter: v_max_logname. To view or change the value, follow the instructions provided for viewing and changing the user name length in mkuser, earlier in this article.

To create a group, simply execute the mkgroup command with the group name as an argument, as shown in in example:

	
# mkgroup atctest

# grep atctest /etc/group
atctest:!:202:

# grep -p atctest /etc/security/group
atctest:
        admin = false

To create an admin group, add the -a switch, as shown in example:

	
# mkgroup -a atcadmin

# grep atcadmin /etc/group
atcadmin:!:15:

# grep -p atcadmin /etc/security/group
atcadmin:
        admin = true

To create a group and add Xander as the administrator of the group, add the adm section of the /etc/security/group stanza to the command line, as shown in example below:

	
# mkgroup adms=xander xangroup

# grep xangroup /etc/group
xangroup:!:203:

# grep -p xangroup /etc/security/group
xangroup:
        admin = false
        adms = xander

Like mkuser, mkgroup follows the same attributes as chgroup. For a full list of the attributes, read chgroup's man page (man chgroup).

chgroup

The chgroup command works just like chuser, and its man page contains all the attributes you can change on a group. Listing 22 provides an example of how to change the group's xangroup GID from 203 to 204. Add a few users to the group, as well.

	
# grep xangroup /etc/group
xangroup:!:203:

# chgroup id=204 users=xander,atc,amdc xangroup

# grep xangroup /etc/group
xangroup:!:204:xander,atc,amdc

chgrpmem

Another way to modify a group's members is with chgrpmem. The chgrpmem command allows you to list, add, and remove users from a group as well as modify the administrators of the group.

For example, the group xangroup has xander and atc as members and xander as an administrator of the group. Remove atc from the group:

	
# chgrpmem xangroup
xangroup:
        members = xander,atc
        adms = xander

# chgrpmem -m - atc xangroup

# chgrpmem xangroup
xangroup:
        members = xander
        adms = xander

Suppose there was a mistake and user atc was not supposed to be removed. Instead, user atc was supposed to become the administrator of the group, while xander's administrative rights were to be removed. Listing 24 shows the code to make the correction.

	
# chgrpmem -m + atc xangroup

# chgrpmem -a + atc xangroup

# chgrpmem -a - xander xangroup

# chgrpmem xangroup
xangroup:
        members = xander,atc
        adms = atc

lsgroup

With such a nice command for users as lsuser, shouldn't there be one for groups, as well? There is: lsgroup. To continue with the standard format of commands and their options in AIX, lsgroup follows the same structure as lsuser.

# lsgroup xangroup
xangroup id=204 admin=false users=xander,cormany adms=cormany registry=files

# lsgroup -f xangroup
xangroup:
        id=204
        admin=false
        users=xander,cormany
        adms=cormany
        registry=files

# lsgroup -c xangroup,atcadmin
#name:id:admin:users:adms:registry
xangroup:204:false:xander,cormany:cormany:files
#name:id:admin:registry
atcadmin:15:true:files

# lsgroup -c -a id xangroup,atcadmin
#name:id
xangroup:204
#name:id
atcadmin:15

rmgroup

Throughout this article, you've been creating sample groups. Now, it's time to clean up the AIX system you're using. To remove a group from the system, simply execute rmgroup with the group's name as the argument:

# rmgroup atctest

The rmgroup command does not allow you to remove the group until you have moved all users that have the group as their primary group to another group.

Recommended Links

AIX user and group administration by Adam Cormany



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Last modified: September 12, 2017