Practice Exercise: How to Create a User Without a Login Shell and Home Directory


Creating a user in Linux without a login shell and home directory is a common practice in system administration, especially for managing service accounts. This article guides you through the process, highlighting its importance in various applications, particularly in enhancing system security.

Understanding Linux User Accounts

Linux user accounts are integral to system management, allowing for resource and access control. Each account is associated with specific attributes like a username, a user ID (UID), a group ID (GID), a home directory, and a default shell.

Why Create a User Without a Login Shell and Home Directory?

Such users are typically created for running services or automated tasks. Removing the login shell and home directory minimizes security risks, as these accounts cannot be used to log into the system interactively.

Step-by-Step Guide

To create a user without a login shell and home directory in Linux, follow these steps:

  • Open a terminal.
  • Run the command: sudo useradd -M -s /sbin/nologin username, replacing username with your desired user name. The -M flag prevents the creation of a home directory, and -s /sbin/nologin sets the user’s shell to nologin, disallowing interactive login.

Verifying the User Creation

Verify the user creation by checking the /etc/passwd file. Run grep 'username' /etc/passwd and confirm that the user’s shell is set to /sbin/nologin and no home directory is listed.

Use Cases and Best Practices

These users are ideal for running specific services, like web servers or database services. It’s best practice to clearly document these accounts and their purposes for effective system management.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you encounter problems, ensure you have the necessary administrative privileges and check for typos in your commands. Consult system logs for any error messages that can provide insights into the issue.


Creating a user without a login shell and home directory is a straightforward yet powerful tool in Linux system administration. It enhances security and allows for more efficient management of service accounts. For more advanced user management techniques, consider exploring resources on Linux system administration and security best practices.


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