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How To Add and Delete Users on Ubuntu 12.04 and CentOS 6

When you log into a new freshly spun up server instance, you are accessing it from the root user. Although this gives you the power to make any changes you need on the server, you are much better off creating another new user with root privileges on the virtual private server. Additionally, if other people will be accessing the virtual server, you will need to make new users for them as well. This tutorial will go over creating a new user, granting them root privileges, and deleting users.

When you perform any root tasks with the new user, you will need to use the phrase "sudo” before the command. This is a helpful command for 2 reasons: 1) it prevents the user making any system-destroying mistakes 2) it stores all the commands run with sudo to a file where can be reviewed later if needed. Keep in mind however, that this user is as powerful as the root user. If you only need a user for a limited number of tasks on the server, you do not need to give them root privileges.

Setup

This tutorial requires access to the root user or a user with sudo privileges.

You should have received your root password from the welcome email after you launched your server instance.

Users on Ubuntu 12.04

How to Add a User on Ubuntu 12.04

To add a new user in Ubuntu, use the adduser command, replacing the "newuser” with your preferred username.

sudo adduser newuser


As soon as you type this command, Ubuntu will automatically start the process:

  • Type in and confirm your password
  • Enter in the user’s information. This is not required, pressing enter will automatically fill in the field with the default information
  • Press Y (or enter) when Ubuntu asks you if the information is correct

Congratulations—you have just added a new user. You can log out of the root user by typing exit and then logging back in with the new username and password.

How to Grant a User Root Privileges

As mentioned earlier, you are much better off using a user with root privileges.
You can create the sudo user by opening the sudoers file with this command:

sudo /usr/sbin/visudo


Adding the user’s name and the same permissions as root under the the user privilege specification will grant them the sudo privileges.

# User privilege specification

root ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

newuser ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL


Press ‘cntrl x’ to exit the file and then ‘Y’ to save it.

How to Delete a User

Should you find that you find that you no longer want to have a specific user on the virtual private server you can delete them with a single command.

sudo userdel newuser


Finish up by the deleting the user’s home directory:

sudo rm -rf /home/newuser

Users on CentOS 6

How to Add a User on CentOS 6

To add a new user in CentOS, use the adduser command, replacing the "newuser” with your preferred username.

sudo adduser newuser


Follow up by providing the user with a new password, typing and confirming the new password when prompted:

sudo passwd newuser


Congratulations—you have just added a new user and their password. You can log out of the root user by typing exit and then logging back in with the new username and password.

How to Grant a User Root Privileges

As mentioned earlier, you are much better off using a user with root privileges.

You can create the sudo user by opening the sudoers file with this command:

sudo /usr/sbin/visudo


You will find the section to make the user privilege modifications at the bottom of the file. Type "a” to start inserting text. Adding the user’s name and the same permissions as root under the the user privilege specification will grant them the sudo privileges.

## Allow root to run any commands anywhere

root ALL=(ALL) ALL

newuser ALL=(ALL) ALL


Save and Exit the file by press "shift” ZZ.

How to Delete a User

Should you find that you find that you no longer want to have a specific user on the virtual private server you can delete them with a single command.

sudo userdel newuser


You can add the flag "-r” to the command if you would like to simultaneously remove the users’s home directory and files.

sudo userdel -r newuser

Next Steps

Once you have set up the users will you need, you can start building up your server. A good place to start is to install the LAMP stack (a collection of basic web server software) on your server instance, using the tutorials below.

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