Linux: How To Create Multiple Users Accounts in Batch

by on August 21, 2006 · 26 comments· LAST UPDATED September 27, 2009

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The useradd command is used to create a new user or update default new user information from the command line. However, sometimes you need to create a large number of users or import usernames from a text file. You can use newusers command, which update and create new users in batch.

This is useful at universities or large corporate Linux networks. Adding users in batch saves the time.

Task: Set Password

Type the following command to change or set user password:
echo "username:password" | newusers
For example, change user password for vivek user:
echo "vivek:myUltraSecretPassword" | newusers

Task: Update and create new users in batch

newusers command reads a file of user name and clear-text password pairs and uses this information to update a group of existing users or to create new users. Each line is in the same format as the standard password file.

This command is intended to be used in a large system environment where many accounts are updated at a single time (batch mode). Since username and passwords are stored in clear text format make sure only root can read/write the file. Use chmod command:
# touch /root/batch-user-add.txt
# chmod 0600 /root/batch-user-add.txt

Create a user list as follows. Open file:
# vi /root/batch-user-add.txt

Append username and password:
user1:password:1001:513:Student Account:/home/user1:/bin/bash
user2:password:1002:513:Sales user:/home/user2:/bin/bash
user100:password:1100:513:Sales user:/home/user100:/bin/bash
tom:password:1110:501:Guest Account:/home/guest:/bin/menu
jerry:password:1120:501:Guest Account:/home/guest:/bin/menu

Now, create users in batch:
# newusers /root/batch-user-add.txt
Verify that your /etc/group, /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files are updated:
less /etc/group
less /etc/passwd
less /etc/shadow

Recommend readings:

  • man page of the newusers command for more information.
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 max August 22, 2006 at 9:14 am

I’m just wondering what could be a typical content in the ‘…:/bin/menu’ file.

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2 nixCraft August 22, 2006 at 11:21 am

A shell or perl script that displays basic options for guest like open mc file browser, a mail client, shell access or offers help etc ..

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3 Pradeep June 15, 2007 at 3:12 am

Thanks for that tutorial.
I learned to add multiple users at one go..
Thanks a lot..
neat and simple .

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4 Max September 12, 2007 at 8:34 pm

One godawesome tip mate!

thanx!

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5 Anders September 24, 2007 at 8:38 am

Extremly nice script! Though, I have a different issue I’m trying to create a work-around for. Im administrating mailaccounts and soon I need to add another 2000 mailaccounts to the system. This is not something done in a few minutes and I was wondering if someone can help me create/have a script/have an idea on how to solve this.

The mailaccounts start with donw and then 4 numbers, ex donw2518, donw2519 etc etc.

So, I need a script that can add users with an incremental count on the username.

Appologize for my bad grammar ;-P

//Anders, Sweden

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6 nixCraft September 24, 2007 at 10:51 am

Anders,

A few months back someone posted same question on our Linux support forum. I’ve posed solution for the same.

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7 Anders September 26, 2007 at 5:36 am

Vivek, I owe you bigtime. Thanks a BUNCH! ;-P
If you are skilled with named/DNS, please let me know, I have another problem that I need help with.

Thanks again, huuuuge thanks!

Regards,

Anders, Sweden

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8 Terry November 6, 2007 at 2:34 pm

This is a great method for adding multiple users, but I found an issue whereby default user profile settings are not created, ie the contents of /etc/skel are not copied to the user’s home directories. Is there a way to have this enabled, or does this require a separate step

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9 nixCraft November 6, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Terry,

Noop, you need to write a custom script using perl or python

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10 Terry November 6, 2007 at 3:14 pm

Thanks Vivek, do you happen to have something handy? otherwise no worries, most of the accounts I am creating are for ftp use and will not be logging on anyway

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11 Darren January 28, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Hi, I am trying to create multiple accounts at once. I created a file with all the usernames and commands, but when i run it (./filename) it gives errors stating that the username is invalid. When I run the command to add a user it works. Can someone help me?

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12 ytuncez February 17, 2009 at 9:27 am

How do you create user id and group id automatically this command

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13 henk the tank March 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

Can you also make a script for deleting multiple users? and how can i get it work in Suse?

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14 Shruti Srivastava February 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

Hi,

i am looking for automation script for deleting multiple users on multiple servers.
As we have a central server through which we can access all the servers directly so if we can run the script on this server and can delete the users from all the other server.

Let me know if you have any scripts for these.

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15 Wilson March 25, 2009 at 4:01 am

I have followed the guide and it can create multiple users in one times…but when I test login the new users, I found got this error:

“Your session only lasted less than 10 seconds. If you have not logged out yourself, this could mean that there is some installation problem or that you may be out of diskspace. Try logging in with one of the failsafe sessions to see if you can fix this problem.”

May I know what happen? Or I miss some steps in creating new users with above guide?

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16 Scott Kunian April 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm

This workd great for creating the user with one issue I can’t seem to figure out.

My text file was formetted like this
username1:password1:1001:100:User Name:/home/username1:/bin/ksh

The problem I had is that the Login Shell ended up being some newly created /bin/ksh with a odd symbol tacked onto the end. So I still had to go into each user and change the shell. For testing I tried to add a : to the end of each line and that only through an error. I tested again by making the shell /bin/bash and that duplicated the same issue, by createing a different /bin/bash with an odd symbol at the end.

Any thoughts?

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17 nixCraft April 25, 2009 at 12:11 am

Refer to your local newusers man page. It may be latest or old version…

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18 desi June 11, 2009 at 9:05 am

hi to everyone!
i try this tutorial but when i try to login to my squirrelmail it shows error messages from IMAP server. every command was executed but the problem is when i try to login to my webmail. what can i do? can anyone help me!

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19 desi June 11, 2009 at 9:31 am

i think it has to do because when a user is created its home folder does not contain maildir folder. what should i do?

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20 Big May 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

If I’m requested to create 1000 users on Linux server, what would be the easiest way to do it?

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21 John Brock July 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hi
On reading this page, I thought as usual, it would be so easy to create a few users…
But ‘newusers’ is quite fussy. Your example above fails with “invalid line” for just the simple example.
You MUST put a complete line in in the correct format.
e.g. johnb:jknb1234:1001:500:mailuser:/home/mailuser:/bin/bash
Also do this at the cli, not from Windwoes. This will add extra characters (cr) to every line.

regards
John Brock
PS why don’t you sort the entries so that the latest comments are nearest the tutorial?

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22 venkat October 1, 2010 at 4:40 am

how to create multipul users at time……..?
how generate new users and passwords automatically by system and send to user mail ?
how checking system performence…..?

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23 Al November 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Nice!! I was looking for this… one question: How can we create new groups in the same shell script and assign those new different groups to the different users in batch?

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24 fraggie December 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

Hi All,
I generally have to add many users on around 200 servers at the same time. its a hectic job. could anyone help me in creating a script for that. i use ssh to access servers but ssh may not be configured on some of the servers.
Thanks in advance.

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25 Shruti Srivastava February 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

Hi Fraggie,

please share the script if you have for adding users at the same time….i do have the same issue of ssh to access the servers.

Reply

26 hans September 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

It seams that it does not work.
On my system it is mandotory to put all emty fields in as in :

echo “test3:testpwd:::::” | newusers

See man page for details.

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