Linux List All Users In The System

I‘m a new Linux sys admin and I’m unable to find the command to list all users on my RHEL server. What is the command to list users under Linux operating systems?

/etc/passwd file contains one line for each user account, with seven fields delimited by colons This is a text file. You can easily list users using the cat command or other commands such as grep command/egrep command and more. This page describes various Linux commands to list all users on Linux operating system.

Linux list all users command

Type any one of the following command:
$ cat /etc/passwd
Sample outputs:

root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash
daemon:x:1:1:daemon:/usr/sbin:/bin/sh
bin:x:2:2:bin:/bin:/bin/sh
sys:x:3:3:sys:/dev:/bin/sh
sync:x:4:65534:sync:/bin:/bin/sync
games:x:5:60:games:/usr/games:/bin/sh
man:x:6:12:man:/var/cache/man:/bin/sh
....
..
...

OR use pagers such as more/less command as follows to view /etc/passwd file:
$ more /etc/passwd
$ less /etc/passwd

Sample outputs:

Fig.01: List users using /etc/passwd

All fields are separated by a colon (:) symbol. Total seven fields exists. The first field is username. It is used when user logs in. It should be between 1 and 32 characters in length.

How to only List user names on Linux

To list only usernames type the following awk command:
$ awk -F':' '{ print $1}' /etc/passwd
Sample outputs:

root
daemon
bin
sys
sync
games
man
lp
mail
news
....
..
..hplip
vivek
bind
haldaemon
sshd
mysql
radvd

Another option is to use the cut command:
$ cut -d: -f1 /etc/passwd

Say hello to getent command

To get a list of all Linux users you type the following getent command:
$ getent passwd
$ getent passwd | grep tom

One can use the compgen command to list all users and other resources too:
$ compgen -u

A Note About System and General Users

Each user has numerical user ID called UID. It is defined in /etc/passwd file. The UID for each user is automatically selected using /etc/login.defs file when you use useradd command. To see current value, enter:
$ grep "^UID_MIN" /etc/login.defs
$ grep UID_MIN /etc/login.defs

Sample outputs:

UID_MIN			 1000
#SYS_UID_MIN		  100

1000 is minimum values for automatic uid selection in useradd command. In other words all normal system users must have UID >= 1000 and only those users are allowed to login into system if shell is bash/csh/tcsh/ksh etc as defined /etc/shells file. Type the following command to list all login users:

## get UID limit ##
l=$(grep "^UID_MIN" /etc/login.defs)
## use awk to print if UID >= $UID_LIMIT ##
awk -F':' -v "limit=${l##UID_MIN}" '{ if ( $3 >= limit ) print $1}' /etc/passwd

To see maximum values for automatic uid selection in useradd command, enter:
awk -F’:’ -v “min=${l##UID_MIN}” -v “max=${l1##UID_MAX}” ‘{ if ( $3 >= min && $3 <= max ) print $0}' /etc/passwd $ grep “^UID_MAX” /etc/login.defs
Sample outputs:

UID_MAX			60000

In other words all normal system users must have UID >= 1000 (MIN) and UID <= 60000 (MAX) and only those users are allowed to login into system if shell is bash/csh/tcsh/ksh etc as defined /etc/shells file. Here is an updated code:

## get mini UID limit ##
l=$(grep "^UID_MIN" /etc/login.defs)
 
## get max UID limit ##
l1=$(grep "^UID_MAX" /etc/login.defs)
 
## use awk to print if UID >= $MIN and UID <= $MAX   ##
awk -F':' -v "min=${l##UID_MIN}" -v "max=${l1##UID_MAX}" '{ if ( $3 >= min && $3 <= max ) print $0}' /etc/passwd

Sample outputs:

vivek:x:500:500::/home/vivek:/bin/bash
raj:x:501:501::/home/raj:/bin/ksh
ash:x:502:502::/home/ash:/bin/zsh
jadmin:x:503:503::/home/jadmin:/bin/sh
jwww:x:504:504::/htdocs/html:/sbin/nologin
wwwcorp:x:505:505::/htdocs/corp:/sbin/nologin
wwwint:x:506:506::/htdocs/intranet:/bin/bash
scpftp:x:507:507::/htdocs/ftpjail:/bin/bash
rsynftp:x:508:508::/htdocs/projets:/bin/bash
mirror:x:509:509::/htdocs:/bin/bash
jony:x:510:510::/home/jony:/bin/ksh
amyk:x:511:511::/home/amyk:/bin/ksh

/sbin/nologin is used to politely refuse a login i.e. /sbin/nologin displays a message that an account is not available and exits non-zero. It is intended as a replacement shell field for accounts that have been disabled or you do not want user to login into system using ssh. To filter /sbin/nologin, enter:

#!/bin/bash
# Name: listusers.bash
# Purpose: List all normal user accounts in the system. Tested on RHEL / Debian Linux
# Author: SXI ADMIN <sxi.io>, under GPL v2.0+
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
_l="/etc/login.defs"
_p="/etc/passwd"
 
## get mini UID limit ##
l=$(grep "^UID_MIN" $_l)
 
## get max UID limit ##
l1=$(grep "^UID_MAX" $_l)
 
## use awk to print if UID >= $MIN and UID <= $MAX and shell is not /sbin/nologin   ##
awk -F':' -v "min=${l##UID_MIN}" -v "max=${l1##UID_MAX}" '{ if ( $3 >= min && $3 <= max  && $7 != "/sbin/nologin" ) "$_p"

Sample outputs:

vivek:x:500:500::/home/vivek:/bin/bash
raj:x:501:501::/home/raj:/bin/ksh
ash:x:502:502::/home/ash:/bin/zsh
jadmin:x:503:503::/home/jadmin:/bin/sh
wwwint:x:506:506::/htdocs/intranet:/bin/bash
scpftp:x:507:507::/htdocs/ftpjail:/bin/bash
rsynftp:x:508:508::/htdocs/projets:/bin/bash
mirror:x:509:509::/htdocs:/bin/bash
jony:x:510:510::/home/jony:/bin/ksh
amyk:x:511:511::/home/amyk:/bin/ksh

Finally, this script lists both system and users accounts:

#!/bin/bash
# Name: listusers.bash
# Purpose: List all normal user and system accounts in the system. Tested on RHEL / Debian Linux
# Author: SXI ADMIN <sxi.io>, under GPL v2.0+
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
_l="/etc/login.defs"
_p="/etc/passwd"
 
## get mini UID limit ##
l=$(grep "^UID_MIN" $_l)
 
## get max UID limit ##
l1=$(grep "^UID_MAX" $_l)
 
## use awk to print if UID >= $MIN and UID <= $MAX and shell is not /sbin/nologin   ##
echo "----------[ Normal User Accounts ]---------------"
awk -F':' -v "min=${l##UID_MIN}" -v "max=${l1##UID_MAX}" '{ if ( $3 >= min && $3 <= max  && $7 != "/sbin/nologin" ) print $0 }' "$_p"
 
 
 
echo ""
echo "----------[ System User Accounts ]---------------"
awk -F':' -v "min=${l##UID_MIN}" -v "max=${l1##UID_MAX}" '{ if ( !($3 >= min && $3 <= max  && $7 != "/sbin/nologin")) print $0 }' "$_p"

Sample outputs:

----------[ Normal User Accounts ]---------------
vivek:x:500:500::/home/vivek:/bin/bash
raj:x:501:501::/home/raj:/bin/ksh
ash:x:502:502::/home/ash:/bin/zsh
jadmin:x:503:503::/home/jadmin:/bin/sh
wwwint:x:506:506::/htdocs/intranet:/bin/bash
scpftp:x:507:507::/htdocs/ftpjail:/bin/bash
rsynftp:x:508:508::/htdocs/projets:/bin/bash
mirror:x:509:509::/htdocs:/bin/bash
jony:x:510:510::/home/jony:/bin/ksh
amyk:x:511:511::/home/amyk:/bin/ksh


----------[ System User Accounts ]---------------
root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash
bin:x:1:1:bin:/bin:/sbin/nologin
daemon:x:2:2:daemon:/sbin:/sbin/nologin
adm:x:3:4:adm:/var/adm:/sbin/nologin
lp:x:4:7:lp:/var/spool/lpd:/sbin/nologin
sync:x:5:0:sync:/sbin:/bin/sync
shutdown:x:6:0:shutdown:/sbin:/sbin/shutdown
halt:x:7:0:halt:/sbin:/sbin/halt
mail:x:8:12:mail:/var/spool/mail:/sbin/nologin
uucp:x:10:14:uucp:/var/spool/uucp:/sbin/nologin
operator:x:11:0:operator:/root:/sbin/nologin
games:x:12:100:games:/usr/games:/sbin/nologin
gopher:x:13:30:gopher:/var/gopher:/sbin/nologin
ftp:x:14:50:FTP User:/var/ftp:/sbin/nologin
nobody:x:99:99:Nobody:/:/sbin/nologin
dbus:x:81:81:System message bus:/:/sbin/nologin
vcsa:x:69:69:virtual console memory owner:/dev:/sbin/nologin
abrt:x:173:173::/etc/abrt:/sbin/nologin
haldaemon:x:68:68:HAL daemon:/:/sbin/nologin
ntp:x:38:38::/etc/ntp:/sbin/nologin
saslauth:x:499:499:"Saslauthd user":/var/empty/saslauth:/sbin/nologin
postfix:x:89:89::/var/spool/postfix:/sbin/nologin
apache:x:48:48:Apache:/var/www:/sbin/nologin
webalizer:x:67:67:Webalizer:/var/www/usage:/sbin/nologin
sshd:x:74:74:Privilege-separated SSH:/var/empty/sshd:/sbin/nologin
tcpdump:x:72:72::/:/sbin/nologin
mysql:x:27:27:MySQL Server:/var/lib/mysql:/bin/bash
memcached:x:498:496:Memcached daemon:/var/run/memcached:/sbin/nologin
squid:x:23:23::/var/spool/squid:/sbin/nologin
rpc:x:32:32:Rpcbind Daemon:/var/cache/rpcbind:/sbin/nologin
rpcuser:x:29:29:RPC Service User:/var/lib/nfs:/sbin/nologin
nfsnobody:x:65534:65534:Anonymous NFS User:/var/lib/nfs:/sbin/nologin

See also: How to check list of users in Unix

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.