FreeBSD add new user and manage existing ones

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FreeBSD add new user and manage existing ones

FreeBSD user accounts – Introduction

Many bare metal machine or virtual private servers (VPS) deployments, especially development servers, require a high number of users to operate and where there are no remote authentication systems available like radius or Ldap, they need to be added manually. This guide discusses the steps to add new users in FreeBSD, delete, change and display their settings. It also discusses the way to enforce password quality control of users’ passwords by using the pam_passwdqc – password quality control PAM module in FreeBSD. FreeBSD uses in interactive method of adding new users adduser and one-command method using pw to create, delete, show and manipulate system users (NIS, LDAP and Radius users are not affected). Before we begin, we need to make sure we have root or sudo access to the system, otherwise FreeBSD does not allow new user creation.

FreeBSD add new user – adduser interactive method

First method of adding users in FreeBSD is the adduser interactive command:
$ adduser
Username: vpsie1
Full name: Vpsie test user 1
Uid (Leave empty for default): ^C
[[email protected] ~]$ adduser
Username: vpsie1
Full name: FreeBSD VPSie user 1
Uid (Leave empty for default):
Login group [vpsie1]:
Login group is vpsie1. Invite vpsie1 into other groups? []:
Login class [default]:
Shell (sh csh tcsh bash rbash git-shell nologin) [sh]: bash
Home directory [/home/vpsie1]:
Home directory permissions (Leave empty for default):
Use password-based authentication? [yes]:
Use an empty password? (yes/no) [no]:
Use a random password? (yes/no) [no]:
Enter password:
Enter password again:
Lock out the account after creation? [no]:
Username   : vpsie1
Password   : *****
Full Name  : FreeBSD VPSie user 1
Uid        : 1004
Class      :
Groups     : vpsie1
Home       : /home/vpsie1
Home Mode  :
Shell      : /usr/local/bin/bash
Locked     : no
OK? (yes/no): y
adduser: INFO: Successfully added (vpsie1) to the user database.
Add another user? (yes/no): n
Let’s look at the options we have when we add a new FreeBSD user with the adduser command: Full name of the new user. User ID. If left blank, it will be assigned it’s own uid starting in the range 1000+. User login group. At this step, the new user can be added to an existing login group or, if left blank,a new group having the same name as the user. We also have the possibility to add the new users other groups. Login class. FreeBSD login classes are security restrictive groups that limit users’ utilized resources, password format, and more. For more details look at /etc/login.conf file or at man login.conf. The next options are self explanatory, but they still ned to be read carefully.

FreeBSD add new user – one command

The second method is the pw command. Here are all relevant options from man pw:

     pw [-V etcdir] useradd [name|uid] [-C config] [-q] [-n name] [-u uid]
        [-c comment] [-d dir] [-e date] [-p date] [-g group] [-G grouplist]
        [-m] [-M mode] [-k dir] [-w method] [-s shell] [-o] [-L class]
        [-h fd | -H fd] [-N] [-P] [-Y]
     The following options apply to the useradd and usermod commands:

     -n name       Specify the user/account name.

     -u uid        Specify the user/account numeric id.

     -c comment    This field sets the contents of the passwd GECOS field,
                   which normally contains up to four comma-separated fields
                   containing the user's full name, office or location, and
                   work and home phone numbers.

    -d dir        This option sets the account's home directory.  Normally,
                   you will only use this if the home directory is to be dif-
                   ferent from the default determined from /etc/pw.conf - nor-
                   mally /home with the account name as a subdirectory.

     -e date       Set the account's expiration date.

     -g group      Set the account's primary group to the given group.  group
                   may be defined by either its name or group number.
     -G grouplist  Set additional group memberships for an account.  grouplist
                   is a comma, space or tab-separated list of group names or
                   group numbers.

     -L class      This option sets the login class for the user being cre-
                   ated.  See login.conf(5) and passwd(5) for more information
                   on user login classes.

     -m            This option instructs pw to attempt to create the user's
                   home directory.
     -s shell      Set or changes the user's login shell to shell.
     -h fd         This option provides a special interface by which interac-
                   tive scripts can set an account password using pw.  Because
                   the command line and environment are fundamentally insecure
                   mechanisms by which programs can accept information, pw
                   will only allow setting of account and group passwords via
                   a file descriptor (usually a pipe between an interactive
                   script and the program).  sh, bash, ksh and perl all pos-
                   sess mechanisms by which this can be done.  Alternatively,
                   pw will prompt for the user's password if -h 0 is given,
                   nominating stdin as the file descriptor on which to read
                   the password.  Note that this password will be read only
                   once and is intended for use by a script rather than for
                   interactive use.  If you wish to have new password confir-
                   mation along the lines of passwd(1), this must be imple-
                   mented as part of an interactive script that calls pw.
Let’s construct the one line command for adding the new user:
$ sudo pw useradd -n newuser -e 01-09-2018 -m -s /usr/local/bin/bash -h 0 -L default -c "New user on FreeBSD"
password for user newuser:
You will be prompted to provide the new user’s password.

Enforce user password policy in FreeBSD

To enforce password strength policy in FreeBSD, we will need to enable and configure PAM (password quality control) module in file cat /etc/pam.d/passwd by uncommenting it. Before defining a password policy, the man pam_passwdqc should be consulted for more information on how we can build a password policy in FreeBSD. Example below:
$ sudo cat /etc/pam.d/passwd
password	requisite		min=disabled,disabled,disabled,12,10 similar=deny ask_oldauthtok enforce=users
password	required		no_warn try_first_pass nullok
The above enforces the following to: – forces old password to be entered AND – 12 characters if they are from 3 character classes OR – 10 characters if they are from 4 character classes AND – denies new password if it is similar to old one AND – enforce the above restrictions for non-root users.

FreeBSD: Display user information

$ sudo pw usershow newuser
newuser:*:1005:1005:default:0:1535756400:New user on FreeBSD:/home/newuser:/usr/local/bin/bash

Locking and unlocking users in FreeBSD

The fastest way to keep a user from logging into the system is changing his/her password, but the safest approach is to lock the user account without removing it and it’s directory:
$ sudo pw lock newuser
$ sudo su - newuser
su: Sorry
FreeBSD passwords are kept in /etc/master.passwd file. By locking a user, the system will add a *LOCKED* string in front of the password hash:
Similarly, to unlock the user:
$ sudo pw unlock newuser

How to remove a system user in FreeBSD

There are at least 4 ways to delete system users in FreeBSD, but I will show here an example based on the pw command and the userdel option. If you know the name of the user intended for removal, use the below command:
$ sudo pw userdel -n newuser
This should provide the basic understanding of user management under FreeBSD. Please post your comments if you disagree or wish to request a tutorial.  

You can actually create this setup on our platform in few minutes utilizing our PCS (Private Cloud Solution) which allows you to have VPSie(s) on a private network – NAT – Port forward – traffic control for inbound and outbound – multiple gateway IPs which you could use for the load-balancing and failover.

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