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Howto: Changing Linux Login Shell

Q. Can you tell me command to change login shell in Linux / UNIX operating system?

A. You don't have to edit /etc/passwd file to change your shell. You need to use chsh command. It changes the user login shell. This determines the name of the users initial login command. A normal user may only change the login shell for his/her own account, the super user i.e. root user may change the login shell for any account. Following is syntax of chsh command:
chsh -s {shell-name} {user-name}

Where,

  • -s {shell-name} : Specify your login shell name. You can obtained list of avialble shell from /etc/shells file.
  • User-name: It is optional, useful if you are a root user.

First, find out available shell list:
$ less /etc/shells

Output:

/bin/ash
/bin/csh
/bin/sh
/usr/bin/es
/bin/ksh
/bin/tcsh
/bin/sash
/bin/zsh
/bin/dash
/usr/bin/screen
/bin/bash
/bin/rbash

Now change your shell name to /bin/tcsh:
$ chsh -s /bin/tcsh
Password:

When promoted for password, type your own password. If you just type chsh command, it will prompt for shell name interactively:
$ chsh

Output:

Password:
Changing the login shell for tv
Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
       Login Shell [/bin/bash]:
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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Sutharsan October 9, 2009, 9:00 am

    I need to change my root password on daily basis. But the new password should be create from shell script. The input for the new password should be current date. Which means

    let we say
    the current date is x1, then the password should be x2. (but user should be able to calculate the new password)

    is it possible to do it?

    • max August 27, 2011, 12:56 pm

      yes, try the cron deamon (crontab)

  • Drey January 7, 2011, 8:28 am

    Hi.
    Followed, but still see csh welcome in new tab of Terminal in xfce on FreeBSD.
    /etc/passwd shows bash. What I’ve missed?

  • homoudi March 18, 2014, 7:38 am

    please i try to change my shell from bash to csh then i get this steps ,what have i write then:
    [wrf@wrf-host ~]$ chsh
    Changing shell for wrf.
    Password:
    New shell [/bin/csh]:

    • Drey March 18, 2014, 10:14 am

      You should then just press [enter] to have csh as a default shell.

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