Howto set or force user to change a password at first login under Linux

by on February 20, 2007 · 5 comments· LAST UPDATED February 20, 2007

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Recently I got a question that read as follows:

How do I force user foo to change a password at the first time login using ssh?

As a sys admin you may need this kind of facility. There are many ways to achieve this.

You can set empty/null password and use passwd command to expire password. This will result into immediate password change for the first time.

For example you just need to type following two commands:
# usermod -p “” foo
# chage -d 0 foo

You can also ignore first command if foo is already exists in system.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dragan March 11, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Hi, but if you are running a Debian based distro on your server it is necessary to add the ‘shadow’ file into your ‘/etc/’ directory if you want this to work. So, to do this execute the following command ‘pwconv’ from CLI and the ‘/etc/shadow’ file will be automatically created. After that execute the ‘chage -d 0 username’. And that it’s.



2 Bob Clampett August 22, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Here are a set of scripts that work with RHEL 5.2. as Bash scripts.

userlist.txt – Contains a set of UID’s to be created. – creates the UID’s – Changes the password for the uids defined in userlist.txt – sets the UID password to expire (forces the user the change password @ logon)


for i in `more userlist.txt`


echo ${i}
adduser ${i

for i in `more /root/users/userlist.txt `


echo ${i}
echo ${i}”1234″ | passwd –stdin ${i}

echo; echo “User ${i}.s password changed!”


for i in `more userlist.txt `


echo $i

echo ${i} | chage -d 0 ${i}

echo; echo “User $i will be forced to change password on next login!”



3 Russell Cook April 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

The scripts should do a “cat” instead of the “more” … the more command will create a problem if there are more than page it will wait for a keypress.


4 Prabhu Thiyagarajan August 30, 2012 at 1:31 am


Thanks for the tips and script.
But, after executing the above commands to enforce the user to change the password upon first login, I am not able to see this comment (You are required to change your password immediately (root enforced)) in PUTTY screen when I login as the respective user.

Of course, this works when I directly login on my VM.


5 flo December 11, 2014 at 9:55 am

that does no longer work on debian 7!


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