Can i open /etc/passwd file using an editor like vi and then add a comment into this file. If i am able to do that, will the change be persistent after reboot. If it is not the right way to edit the file in the above mentioned way, what is the ideal way to do this?



You can edit the /etc/passwd file with a plain old text editor. However, it's advisable to use applications specifically designed for password file editing (vipw, useradd, etc...) as messing up this file can make it impossible to login normally. If you do mess up the file you will need to recover it by booting from a CD.

Once you edit the file, try logging in via "ssh localhost" or by using another virtual terminal ([ctrl] + [alt] + [F2]) before you logout of your existing session.


I don't think there is any way to leave a comment in the /etc/passwd file, except on FreeBSD systems using a '#' symbol. You can however use the following command to edit the passwd file using vi:

$ vipw
  • I dont have the command vipw in my linux machine. Is there any other method to edit it. – LinuxPenseur Jan 4 '11 at 5:24
  • 1
    What distribution is it? It might not be in your PATH shell variable. Try using this: /usr/sbin/vipw – atx Jan 4 '11 at 5:25

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