Provided by: passwd_4.0.13-7ubuntu3_i386
passwd - change user password
passwd [-f -s] [name]
passwd [-g] [-r -R] group
passwd [-x max] [-n min] [-w warn] [-i inact] login
passwd [-l -u -d -S -e] login
passwd changes passwords for user and group accounts. A normal user may
only change the password for his/her own account, the super user may
change the password for any account. The administrator of a group may
change the password for the group. passwd also changes account
information, such as the full name of the user, user’s login shell, or
password expiry date and interval.
The -s option makes passwd call chsh to change the user’s shell. The -f
option makes passwd call chfn to change the user’s gecos information.
These two options are only meant for compatibility, since the other
programs can be called directly.
The user is first prompted for his/her old password, if one is present.
This password is then encrypted and compared against the stored
password. The user has only one chance to enter the correct password.
The super user is permitted to bypass this step so that forgotten
passwords may be changed.
After the password has been entered, password aging information is
checked to see if the user is permitted to change the password at this
time. If not, passwd refuses to change the password and exits.
The user is then prompted for a replacement password. This password is
tested for complexity. As a general guideline, passwords should consist
of 6 to 8 characters including one or more from each of following sets:
· lower case alphabetics
· digits 0 thru 9
· punctuation marks
Care must be taken not to include the system default erase or kill
characters. passwd will reject any password which is not suitably
If the password is accepted, passwd will prompt again and compare the
second entry against the first. Both entries are required to match in
order for the password to be changed.
When the -g option is used, the password for the named group is
changed. The user must either be the super user, or a group
administrator for the named group. The current group password is not
prompted for. The -r option is used with the -g option to remove the
current password from the named group. This allows group access to all
members. The -R option is used with the -g option to restrict the named
group for all users.
Hints for user passwords
The security of a password depends upon the strength of the encryption
algorithm and the size of the key space. The UNIX System encryption
method is based on the NBS DES algorithm and is very secure. The size
of the key space depends upon the randomness of the password which is
Compromises in password security normally result from careless password
selection or handling. For this reason, you should not select a
password which appears in a dictionary or which must be written down.
The password should also not be a proper name, your license number,
birth date, or street address. Any of these may be used as guesses to
violate system security.
Your password must easily remembered so that you will not be forced to
write it on a piece of paper. This can be accomplished by appending two
small words together and separating each with a special character or
digit. For example, Pass%word.
Other methods of construction involve selecting an easily remembered
phrase from literature and selecting the first or last letter from each
word. An example of this is:
· Ask not for whom the bell tolls
· which produces
You may be reasonably sure few crackers will have included this in
their dictionaries. You should, however, select your own methods for
constructing passwords and not rely exclusively on the methods given
Notes about group passwords
Group passwords are an inherent security problem since more than one
person is permitted to know the password. However, groups are a useful
tool for permitting co-operation between different users.
The options which apply to the passwd command are:
This option can be used only with -S and causes show status for
Delete a user’s password (make it empty). This is a quick way to
disable a password for an account. It will set the named account
Immediately expire an account’s password. This in effect can
force a user to change his/her password at the user’s next
Display help message and exit.
-i, --inactive INACTIVE
This option is used to disable an account after the password has
been expired for a number of days. After a user account has had
an expired password for INACTIVE days, the user may no longer
sign on to the account.
Indicate change password should be performed only for expired
authentication tokens (passwords). The user wishes to keep their
non-expired tokens as before.
Lock the named account. This option disables an account by
changing the password to a value which matches no possible
-n, --mindays MIN_DAYS
Set the minimum number of days between password changes. A value
of zero for this field indicates that the user may change her
password at any time.
-r, --repository REPOSITORY
change password in REPOSITORY repository
Display account status information. The status information
consists of 7 fields. The first field is the user’s login name.
The second field indicates if the user account is locked (L),
has no password (NP), or has a usable password (P). The third
field gives the date of the last password change. The next four
fields are the minimum age, maximum age, warning period, and
inactivity period for the password. These ages are expressed in
Unlock the named account. This option re-enables an account by
changing the password back to its previous value (to value
before using -l option).
-w, --warndays WARN_DAYS
Set the number of days of warning before a password change is
required. The WARN_DAYS option is the number of days prior to
the password expiring that a user will be warned her password is
about to expire.
-x, --maxdays MAX_DAYS
Set the maximum number of days a password remains valid. After
MAX_DAYS, the password is required to be changed.
Not all options may be supported. Password complexity checking may vary
from site to site. The user is urged to select a password as complex as
he feels comfortable with. Users may not be able to change their
password on a system if NIS is enabled and they are not logged into the
user account information
secure user account information
The passwd command exits with the following values:
1 permission denied
2 invalid combination of options
3 unexpected failure, nothing done
4 unexpected failure, passwd file missing
5 passwd file busy, try again
6 invalid argument to option
group(5), passwd(5), shadow(5).
Julianne Frances Haugh <email@example.com>