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System Administration Guide: Basic Administration     Oracle Solaris 11 Express 11/10
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Document Information


1.  Managing User Accounts and Groups (Overview)

What Are User Accounts and Groups?

User Account Components

User (Login) Names

User ID Numbers

Using Large User IDs and Group IDs

UNIX Groups

User Passwords

Home Directories

Name Services

User's Work Environment

Guidelines for Assigning User Names, User IDs, and Group IDs

Where User Account and Group Information Is Stored

Fields in the passwd File

Default passwd File

Fields in the shadow File

Fields in the group File

Default group File

Tools for User Account and Group Account Management

Customizing a User's Work Environment

Using Site Initialization Files

Avoiding Local System References

Shell Features

Bash and ksh93 Shell History

Bash and ksh93 Shell Environment Variables

Customizing the Bash Shell

About the MANPATH Environment Variable

The PATH Variable

Setting Path Guidelines

Setting a User's Default Path

Locale Variables

Default File Permissions (umask)

Customizing a User Initialization File

2.  Managing User Accounts and Groups (Tasks)

3.  Introduction to Shutting Down and Booting a System

4.  Shutting Down and Booting a System (Overview)

5.  Shutting Down a System (Tasks)

6.  Modifying Oracle Solaris Boot Behavior (Tasks)

7.  Booting an Oracle Solaris System (Tasks)

8.  Troubleshooting Booting an Oracle Solaris System (Tasks)

9.  Managing the Oracle Solaris Boot Archives (Tasks)

10.  x86: GRUB Based Booting (Reference)

11.  Managing Services (Overview)

12.  Managing Services (Tasks)


Customizing a User's Work Environment

Part of setting up a user's home directory is providing user initialization files for the user's login shell. A user initialization file is a shell script that sets up a work environment for a user after the user logs in to a system. Basically, you can perform any task in a user initialization file that you can do in a shell script. However, a user initialization file's primary job is to define the characteristics of a user's work environment, such as a user's search path, environment variables, and windowing environment. Each login shell has its own user initialization file, or files, which are listed in the following table. Note that the default user initialization file for both the bash and ksh93 shells is /etc/skel/local.profile.

Table 1-7 Bash and ksh93 User Initialization Files

User Initialization File



Defines the user's environment at login


Defines the user's environment at login
Defines user's environment at login in the file and is specified by the Korn shell's ENV environment variable

You can use these files as a starting point and then modify them to create a standard set of files that provide the work environment common to all users. You can also modify these files to provide the working environment for different types of users.

For step-by-step instructions on how to create sets of user initialization files for different types of users, see How to Customize User Initialization Files.

Using Site Initialization Files

The user initialization files can be customized by both the administrator and the user. This important task can be accomplished with centrally located and globally distributed user initialization files that are called, site initialization files. Site initialization files enable you to continually introduce new functionality to the user's work environment, while enabling the user to customize the user's initialization file.

When you reference a site initialization file in a user initialization file, all updates to the site initialization file are automatically reflected when the user logs in to the system or when a user starts a new shell. Site initialization files are designed for you to distribute site-wide changes to users' work environments that you did not anticipate when you added the users.

You can customize a site initialization file the same way that you customize a user initialization file. These files typically reside on a server, or set of servers, and appear as the first statement in a user initialization file. Also, each site initialization file must be the same type of shell script as the user initialization file that references it.

To reference a site initialization file in a bash or ksh93 user initialization file, place a line at the beginning of the user initialization file similar to the following line:

. /net/machine-name/export/site-files/site-init-file

Avoiding Local System References

Do not add specific references to the local system in the user initialization file. The instructions in a user initialization file should be valid, regardless of which system the user logs into.

For example:

Shell Features

The user account that is created when you install the Oracle Solaris release is assigned the GNU Bourne-Again Shell (bash) by default. The standard system shell, bin/sh, is now the Korn Shell 93 (ksh93). Both the bash and ksh93 shells feature command-line editing, which means you can edit commands before executing them. To change to a different shell, type the path of the shell that you want to use. To exit a shell, type exit.

The following table describes the shell options that are supported in this release.

Table 1-8 Basic Shell Features in the Oracle Solaris Release

Bourne-Again Shell (bash)
Default shell for users that are created by an installer, as well as the root role
Korn Shell
ksh93 is the default shell in this Oracle Solaris release
C Shell and enhanced C Shell
/usr/bin/csh and /usr/bin/tcsh
C Shell and enhanced C Shell
POSIX-compliant Shell
POSIX-compliant shell
Z Shell
Z Shell

Note - The Z Shell (zsh) and the enhanced C Shell (tsch) are not installed on your system by default. To use either of these shells, you must first install the required software packages.

Bash and ksh93 Shell History

Both the bash and ksh93 shells record a history of all of the commands that you run. This history is kept on a per user basis, which means history is persistent between login sessions and is representative of all your login sessions.

For example, if you are in a bash shell, to see the complete history of commands you have run, you would type:

$ history
1 ls
2 ls -a
3 pwd
4 whoami

To display a number of previous commands, include an integer in the command:

$ history 2
12 date
13 history

For more information, see the Bash and ksh93 Shell History man page.

Bash and ksh93 Shell Environment Variables

The bash and ksh93 shells store special variable information that is known to the shell as anenvironment variable. To view a complete list of the current environment variables for the bash shell, use the declare command as follows:

$ declare
BASH_VERSINFO=([0]=''3'' [1]=''2'' [2]=''25'' [3]=''1''
[4]=''release'' [5]''

For the ksh93 shell, use the set command, which is the bash shell's declare command equivalent:

$ set
  IFS=$' \t\n'

To print environment variables for either shell, use the echo or printf command. For example:

$ echo $SHELL
$ printf ''$PATH/n''

Note - Environment variables do not persist between sessions. To set up environment variables that remain consistent between logins, you must make the changes in the .bashrc file.

A shell can have two types of variables:

Environment variables

Specifies variables that are exported to all processes that are spawned by the shell. The export command is used to export a variable. For example:

export VARIABLE=value

These settings can be displayed by using the env command. A subset of environment variables, such as PATH, affects the behavior of the shell itself.

Shell (local) variables

Specifies variables that affect only the current shell.

In a user initialization file, you can customize a user's shell environment by changing the values of the predefined variables or by specifying additional variables.

The following table provides more details about the shell and environment variables that are available in the Oracle Solaris release.

Table 1-9 Shell and Environment Variable Descriptions

Sets a variable used by the cd command. If the target directory of the cd command is specified as a relative path name, the cd command first looks for the target directory in the current directory (.). If the target is not found, the path names listed in the CDPATH variable are searched consecutively until the target directory is found and the directory change is completed. If the target directory is not found, the current working directory is left unmodified. For example, the CDPATH variable is set to /home/jean, and two directories exist under /home/jean, bin, and rje. If you are in the /home/jean/bin directory and type cd rje, you change directories to /home/jean/rje, even though you do not specify a full path.
Sets the path to the user's home directory.
Sets the locale.
Defines the name of the user currently logged in. The default value of LOGNAME is set automatically by the login program to the user name specified in the passwd file. You should only need to refer to, not reset, this variable.
Sets the path to the user's mailbox.
Sets the hierarchies of man pages that are available.
Specifies, in order, the directories that the shell searches to find the program to run when the user types a command. If the directory is not in the search path, users must type the complete path name of a command.

As part of the login process, the default PATH is automatically defined and set as specified in .profile.

The order of the search path is important. When identical commands exist in different locations, the first command found with that name is used. For example, suppose that PATH is defined in the shell syntax as PATH=/bin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:$HOME/bin and a file named sample resides in both /usr/bin and /home/jean/bin. If the user types the command sample without specifying its full path name, the version found in /usr/bin is used.

Defines the shell prompt for the bash or ksh93 shell.
Sets the default shell used by make, vi, and other tools.
Names a directory where an alternate terminfo database is stored. Use the TERMINFO variable in either the /etc/profile or /etc/.login file. For more information, see the terminfo(4)man page.

When the TERMINFO environment variable is set, the system first checks the TERMINFO path defined by the user. If the system does not find a definition for a terminal in the TERMINFO directory defined by the user, it searches the default directory, /usr/share/lib/terminfo, for a definition. If the system does not find a definition in either location, the terminal is identified as “dumb.”

Defines the terminal. This variable should be reset in either the /etc/profile or /etc/.login file. When the user invokes an editor, the system looks for a file with the same name that is defined in this environment variable. The system searches the directory referenced by TERMINFO to determine the terminal characteristics.
Sets the time zone. The time zone is used to display dates, for example, in the ls -l command. If TZ is not set in the user's environment, the system setting is used. Otherwise, Greenwich Mean Time is used.

Customizing the Bash Shell

To customize your bash shell, add the information to the .bashrc file that is located in your home directory. The initial user that is created when you install Oracle Solaris has a .bashrc file that sets the PATH, MANPATH, and command prompt. For more information, see the bash(1) man page.

About the MANPATH Environment Variable

The MANPATH environment variable is similar to the PATH variable. MANPATH specifies where the man command looks for reference manual pages. The MANPATH in the user that is created by an installer looks like the following:

$ echo $MANPATH

The PATH Variable

When the user executes a command by using the full path, the shell uses that path to find the command. However, when users specify only a command name, the shell searches the directories for the command in the order specified by the PATH variable. If the command is found in one of the directories, the shell executes the command.

A default path is set by the system. However, most users modify it to add other command directories. Many user problems related to setting up the environment and accessing the correct version of a command or a tool can be traced to incorrectly defined paths.

Setting Path Guidelines

Here are some guidelines for setting up efficient PATH variables:

Setting a User's Default Path

To set the user's default path in either a bash or ksh93 user initialization file, you would add the following:

export PATH

Locale Variables

The LANG and LC environment variables specify the locale-specific conversions and conventions for the shell. These conversions and conventions include time zones, collation orders, and formats of dates, time, currency, and numbers. In addition, you can use the stty command in a user initialization file to indicate whether the terminal session will support multibyte characters.

The LANG variable sets all possible conversions and conventions for the given locale. You can set various aspects of localization separately through these LC variables: LC_COLLATE, LC_CTYPE, LC_MESSAGES, LC_NUMERIC, LC_MONETARY, and LC_TIME.

The following table describes some of the values for the LANG and LC environment variables.

Table 1-10 Values for LANG and LC Variables

American English (UTF-8)
Japanese (EUC)
Korean (EUC)
Simplified Chinese (EUC)
Traditional Chinese (EUC)

For more information on supported locales, see the International Language Environments Guide.

Example 1-1 Setting the Locale Using the LANG Variables

In a Bourne-shell or Korn-shell user initialization file, you would add the following:

LANG=de_DE.ISO8859-1; export LANG

Default File Permissions (umask)

When you create a file or directory, the default file permissions assigned to the file or directory are controlled by the user mask. The user mask is set by the umask command in a user initialization file. You can display the current value of the user mask by typing umask and pressing Return.

The user mask contains the following octal values:

Note that if the first digit is zero, it is not displayed. For example, if the user mask is set to 022, 22 is displayed.

To determine the umask value that you want to set, subtract the value of the permissions you want from 666 (for a file) or 777 (for a directory). The remainder is the value to use with the umask command. For example, suppose you want to change the default mode for files to 644 (rw-r--r--). The difference between 666 and 644 is 022, which is the value you would use as an argument to the umask command.

You can also determine the umask value you want to set by using the following table. This table shows the file and directory permissions that are created for each of the octal values of umask.

Table 1-11 Permissions for umask Values

umask Octal Value
File Permissions
Directory Permissions
--- (none)
--- (none)

The following line in a user initialization file sets the default file permissions to rw-rw-rw-.

umask 000

Customizing a User Initialization File

The following is an example of the .profile user initialization file. You can use this file to customize your own user initialization files. This example uses system names and paths that you will need to modify for your particular site.

Example 1-2 The .profile File

(Line 1) PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/ccs/bin:. 
(Line 2) MAIL=/var/mail/$LOGNAME 
(Line 3) NNTPSERVER=server1 
(Line 4) MANPATH=/usr/share/man:/usr/local/man 
(Line 5) PRINTER=printer1 
(Line 6) umask 022 
  1. Defines the user's shell search path.

  2. Defines the path to the user's mail file.

  3. Defines the user's Usenet news server.

  4. Defines the user's search path for man pages.

  5. Defines the user's default printer.

  6. Sets the user's default file creation permissions.

  7. Sets the listed environment variables.