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I use the following command to create a user in a linux machine:

useradd -d /home/dummy -g idiots -m -p 12345689 dummy

The user is created and the home directory as well.
The problem is that I can not log-in to the system using this account since the -p expects the encrypted password returned by crypto.

Question:I want to create a user via a bash script and I don't know the encrypted password by crypto. How can I do it so that I am able to create this user automatically via a script and get arround the problem with the password?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

You can use openssl to generate pre encrypted password strings to use with the -p option to useradd

echo "P4sSw0rD" | openssl passwd -1 -stdin


The -1 says to generate a MD5 password hash. The salt is automatically generated.

You can then use

useradd -d /home/dummy -g idiots -m -p $(echo "P4sSw0rD" | openssl passwd -1 -stdin) dummy

to add the user. To do this interactively hiding the password

useradd -d /home/dummy -g idiots -m -p $(read -sp Password: pw ; echo $pw | openssl passwd -1 -stdin) dummy
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Is openssl command available in ALL linux installations by default?Can I count on it? – Jim Mar 8 '12 at 10:51
Also echo will show the password in the console.How can I avoid this? – Jim Mar 8 '12 at 10:52
@Jim: If not all, then 99%. It's part of the SSH client and server packages, so it's almost always installed, though technically I don't believe it's required. You can count on it being installed by default, but not necessarily that someone has not uninstalled it. – Matthew Scharley Mar 8 '12 at 10:56
@Jim: Couldn't say with 100% certainty it'll be on all linux installations. – Iain Mar 8 '12 at 10:57
@Iain:What about echo?How can I avoid that? – Jim Mar 8 '12 at 10:59

That`s how I do it:

# cat user-pw_list

# cat
# filename:
# usage: cat "User:passwd" | $0
set -e
# set -x
while read ; do
  # alternative for random passwd, where $RANDOM is a bash function

  echo -e "adding User $USER "
  # for disabled users: /usr/sbin/nologin, otherwise /bin/bash
  /usr/sbin/useradd -c automaticUser -m -k/dev/null -s /usr/sbin/nologin $USER
  echo "$USER:$PWD" | chpasswd --md5 $USER

  ## also add user to samba:
  #echo -e "$PWD\n$PWD" | pdbedit -t -u $USER
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Could you please explain this solution?I am not very good with bash scripts – Jim Mar 8 '12 at 12:33

As you are going to use a bash script, perhaps the good old newusers command would be helpful to you? It reads its input from a text file formatted like this:


And the password in that file should be clear text. You can list as many users as you wish in the input file.

For more information see man newusers.

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I get:bash: newusers: command not found and No manual entry for newusers – Jim Mar 8 '12 at 10:54
Oh, so SLES does not bundle newusers (by default), even though Fedora, Debian and RHEL seem to do so. – Janne Pikkarainen Mar 8 '12 at 10:56

Apparently, you can use

echo "password" | passwd dummy --stdin

I've never tried this.

Alternatively, you could put the user's public key in /home/dummy/.ssh/authorized_keys and forget about passwords entirely. This is the best option security-wise.

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echo will show the password in the console.How can I avoid this? – Jim Mar 8 '12 at 10:52
You could put the password in a file and use cat passwordfile | passwd dummy --stdin or passwd --stdin dummy < passwordfile. On another note, I just tested this --stdin option on a Ubuntu box and it did not work. The version of passwd I have doesn't support that option. Yours may not either. One of the other answers using chpasswd, openssl or newusers might be better if you must have passwords. – Ladadadada Mar 8 '12 at 11:53

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