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man pages section 1M: System Administration Commands

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Updated: July 2017



useradd - administer a new user login on the system


useradd [-A authorization
     [-b base_dir | -d dir] [-c 
comment] [
-e expire] 
     [-f inactive] [-g 
group] [-G group [,
     [-K key=value] [-m [
-k skel_dir]] [-p 
     [-P profile [,profile...
]] [-R role [,
     [-s shell] [-S 
repository] [-u uid [
-o]] login
useradd -D [-A 
authorization [,authorization...]] 
     [-b base_dir] [-s 
shell [-k skel_dir]] [
-e expire] 
     [-f inactive] [-g 
group] [-K key=value] [
-p projname] 
     [-P profile [,profile...
]] [-R role [,
useradd -S ldap [-c comment] [-d dir] [-K key=value]
            [-m] [-s shell] [-u uid] default@


useradd adds a new user to the passwd, shadow, and user_attr databases in the files and ldap repositories. The –A and – P options respectively assign authorizations and profiles to the user. The –R option assigns roles to a user. The –p option associates a project with a user. The –K option adds a key=value pair to user_attr entry for the user. Multiple key=value pairs may be added with multiple –K options.

useradd also creates supplementary group memberships for the user (–G option) and creates the home directory (– m option) for the user if requested. The new login remains locked until the passwd(1) command is executed.

Specifying useradd –D with the –s , –k,–g, –b, –f, – e, –A, –P, –p, –R , or –K option (or any combination of these options) sets the default values for the respective fields. See the –D option, below. Subsequent useradd commands without the –D option use these arguments.

Alternatively, default settings may be specified that are applied dynamically at run time. For accounts that are created using –S ldap, the default values for any of the –K attributes may be specified by using –S ldapand the special value default@ as the account name. The default@ account is automatically locked since it is not intended to be used for logins. Additional default values may be specified in policy.conf(4).

The system file entries created with this command have a limit of 2048 characters per line. Specifying long arguments to several options can exceed this limit.

useradd requires that usernames be in the format described in passwd(4). A warning message is displayed if these restrictions are not met. See passwd(4) for the requirements for usernames.

An administrator must be granted the User Management Profile to be able to create a new user. The authorizations required to set the various fields in passwd, shadow and user_attr can be found in passwd(4), shadow(4), and user_attr(4). The authorizations required to assign groups and projects can be found in group(4) and project(4).


The following options are supported:

–A authorization

One or more comma-separated authorizations defined in auth_attr(4). Only a user or role who has grant rights to the authorization can assign it to an account.

–b base_dir

The base directory for new login home directories (see the – d option below. When a new user account is being created, base_dir must already exist unless the –m option or the –d option is also specified.

–c comment

Any text string. It is generally a short description of the login, and is currently used as the field for the user's full name. This information is stored in the user's passwd entry.

–d dir | server:dir

Specifies the home directory path for the new user. If no server name is specified, the specified directory is maintained in the passwd(4) database.

The optional server name specifies the host on which the home directory resides. Entries in this form depend on the automounter, and are maintained in the auto_home map. The path /home/ username is maintained in the passwd(4) database. When the user subsequently references /home/username, the automounter will mount the specified directory on /home/ username.


Display the default values for group, base_dir, skel_dir, shell, inactive, expire, proj, projname and key=value pairs. When used with the –g, –b, –f, –e, – A, –P, –p, –R, or – K options, the –D option sets the default values for the specified fields. The default values are:


staff (GID of 10)





















key=value (pairs defined in user_attr(4)

not present



–e expire

Specify the expiration date for a login. After this date, no user will be able to access this login. The expire option argument is a date entered using one of the date formats included in the template file /etc/datemsk. See getdate(3C).

If the date format that you choose includes spaces, it must be quoted. For example, you can enter 10/6/90 or October 6, 1990. A null value (" ") defeats the status of the expired date. This option is useful for creating temporary logins.

–f inactive

The maximum number of days allowed between uses of a login ID before that ID is declared invalid. Normal values are positive integers. A value of 0 defeats the status.

–g group

An existing group's integer ID or character-string name. Without the –D option, it defines the new user's primary group membership and defaults to the default group. You can reset this default value by invoking useradd –D –g group. GIDs 0-99 are reserved for allocation by the Solaris Operating System.

–G group

An existing group's integer ID or character-string name. It defines the new user's supplementary group membership. Duplicates between group with the –g and – G options are ignored. No more than NGROUPS_MAX groups can be specified. GIDs 0-99 are reserved for allocation by the Solaris Operating System.

–K key=value

A key=value pair to add to the user's attributes. Multiple –K options may be used to add multiple key=value pairs. The generic –K option with the appropriate key may be used instead of the specific implied key options (–A, –P, –R, –p). See user_attr(4) for a list of valid key=value pairs. The “type” key is not a valid key for this option. Keys may not be repeated.

–k skel_dir

A directory that contains skeleton information (such as .profile) that can be copied into a new user's home directory. This directory must already exist. The system provides the /etc/skel directory that can be used for this purpose.


Create the new user's home directory if it does not already exist. If the directory already exists, it must have read, write, and execute permissions by group, where group is the user's primary group. If the server name specified to the –d option is a remote host then the system will not attempt to create the home directory.

If the directory does not already exist and the parent directory is the mount point of a ZFS dataset, then a child of that dataset will be created and mounted at the specified location. The user is delegated permissions to create ZFS snapshots and promote them. The newly created dataset will inherit the encryption setting from its parent. If it is encrypted, the user is granted permission to change its wrapping key.


This option allows a UID to be duplicated (non-unique).

–P profile

One or more comma-separated execution profiles defined in prof_attr(4).

–p projname

Name of the project with which the added user is associated. See the projname field as defined in project(4).

–R role

One or more comma-separated execution profiles defined in user_attr(4). Roles cannot be assigned to other roles.

–s shell

Full pathname of the program used as the user's shell on login. If unspecified, it will default to any value previously configured with the –D –s option. If no default has been set with –D –s, then /usr/bin/bash will be used. The value of shell must be a valid executable file.

–S repository

The valid repositories are files, ldap . The repository specifies which name service will be updated. The default repository is files. When the repository is files , the authorizations, profiles, and roles can be present in other name service repositories and can be assigned to a user in the files repository. When the repository is ldap, both the LDAP server and client must be configured with EnableShadowUpdate=true. Also, all the assignable attributes must be present in the ldap repository.

–u uid

The UID of the new user. This UID must be a non-negative decimal integer below MAXUID as defined in <sys/param.h>. The UID defaults to the next available (unique) number above the highest number currently assigned. For example, if UIDs 100, 105, and 200 are assigned, the next default UID number will be 201. UIDs 0-99 are reserved for allocation by the Solaris Operating System.

Exit Status

In case of an error, useradd command prints an error message and exits with one of the following values. If the error occurred because LDAP is misconfigured, the following values are preceded by "LDAP configuration problem":


No permission for attempted operation.


The command syntax was invalid. A usage message for the usermod command is displayed.


An invalid argument was provided to an option.


The gid or uid given with the –u option is already in use.


The password and shadow files are not consistent with each other. pwconv(1M) might be of use to correct possible errors. See passwd(4) and shadow(4).


The login to be modified does not exist, the gid or the uid does not exist.


The group, passwd, or shadow file is missing.


A group or user name is already in use.


Cannot update the passwd, shadow, or user_attr file.


Insufficient space to move the home directory (–m option).


Unable to create, remove, or move the new home directory.


Requested login is already in use.


Unexpected failure.


Unable to update the group database.


Unable to update the project database.


Insufficient authorization.


Does not have role.


Does not have profile.


Does not have privilege.


Does not have label.


Does not have group.


System not running Trusted Extensions.


Does not have project.


Unable to update auto_home.










See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following attributes:

Interface Stability

See Also

auths(1), passwd(1), profiles(1), roles(1), groupadd(1M), groupdel(1M), groupmod(1M), grpck(1M), logins(1M), pwck(1M), userdel(1M), usermod(1M), getdate(3C), auth_attr(4), group(4), passwd(4), prof_attr(4), project(4), user_attr(4), attributes(5)

Working With Oracle Solaris 11.3 Directory and Naming Services: LDAP, Managing User Accounts and User Environments in Oracle Solaris 11.3


In case of an error, useradd displays an error message and exits with a non-zero status.

The following indicates that login specified is already in use:

UX: useradd: ERROR: login is already in use. Choose another.

The following indicates that the uid specified with the –u option is not unique:

UX: useradd: ERROR: uid uid is already in use. Choose another. 

The following indicates that the group specified with the –g option has not yet been created:

UX: useradd: ERROR: group group does not exist. Choose another. 

The following indicates that the uid specified with the –u option is in the range of reserved UIDs (from 0-99):

UX: useradd: WARNING: uid uid is reserved.

The following indicates that the uid specified with the –u option exceeds MAXUID as defined in <sys/param.h>:

UX: useradd: ERROR: uid uid is too big. Choose another.

The following indicates that the /etc/passwd or /etc/shadow files do not exist:

UX: useradd: ERROR: Cannot update system files - login cannot be created.

The following indicates that the user executing the command does not have sufficient authorization to perform the operation:

UX: roleadd: ERROR: Permission denied.

The following indicates that an invalid directory was specified in a useradd command:

UX: invalid_directory is not a valid directory. Choose another.


The useradd utility adds definitions to the passwd, shadow, group, project , and user_attr databases in the scope (default or specified). It will verify the uniqueness of the user name (or role) and user id and the existence of any group names specified against the external name service.