passwd - change user password
The passwd command changes passwords for user accounts. A normal user may
only change the password for their own account, while the superuser may change
the password for any account. passwd also changes the account or
associated password validity period.
The user is first prompted for their old password, if one is present. This
password is then encrypted and compared against the stored password. The user
has only one chance to enter the correct password. The superuser is permitted
to bypass this step so that forgotten passwords may be changed.
After the password has been entered, password aging information is
checked to see if the user is permitted to change the password at this time.
If not, passwd refuses to change the password and exits.
The user is then prompted twice for a replacement password. The
second entry is compared against the first and both are required to match in
order for the password to be changed.
Then, the password is tested for complexity. As a general
guideline, passwords should consist of 6 to 8 characters including one or
more characters from each of the following sets:
•lower case alphabetics
•digits 0 thru 9
Care must be taken not to include the system default erase or kill
characters. passwd will reject any password which is not suitably
The security of a password depends upon the strength of the encryption algorithm
and the size of the key space. The legacy UNIX System encryption method
is based on the NBS DES algorithm. More recent methods are now recommended
(see ENCRYPT_METHOD). The size of the key space depends upon the
randomness of the password which is selected.
Compromises in password security normally result from careless
password selection or handling. For this reason, you should not select a
password which appears in a dictionary or which must be written down. The
password should also not be a proper name, your license number, birth date,
or street address. Any of these may be used as guesses to violate system
You can find advice on how to choose a strong password on
The options which apply to the passwd command are:
This option can be used only with -S and causes
show status for all users.
Delete a user's password (make it empty). This is a quick
way to disable a password for an account. It will set the named account
Immediately expire an account's password. This in effect
can force a user to change their password at the user's next login.
Display help message and exit.
-i, --inactive INACTIVE
This option is used to disable an account after the
password has been expired for a number of days. After a user account has had
an expired password for INACTIVE days, the user may no longer sign on
to the account.
Indicate password change should be performed only for
expired authentication tokens (passwords). The user wishes to keep their
non-expired tokens as before.
Lock the password of the named account. This option
disables a password by changing it to a value which matches no possible
encrypted value (it adds a ´!´ at the beginning of the
Note that this does not disable the account. The user may still be
able to login using another authentication token (e.g. an SSH key). To
disable the account, administrators should use usermod --expiredate 1
(this set the account's expire date to Jan 2, 1970).
Users with a locked password are not allowed to change their
-n, --mindays MIN_DAYS
Set the minimum number of days between password changes
to MIN_DAYS. A value of zero for this field indicates that the user may
change their password at any time.
-r, --repository REPOSITORY
change password in REPOSITORY repository
-R, --root CHROOT_DIR
Apply changes in the CHROOT_DIR directory and use
the configuration files from the CHROOT_DIR directory.
Display account status information. The status
information consists of 7 fields. The first field is the user's login name.
The second field indicates if the user account has a locked password (L), has
no password (NP), or has a usable password (P). The third field gives the date
of the last password change. The next four fields are the minimum age, maximum
age, warning period, and inactivity period for the password. These ages are
expressed in days.
Unlock the password of the named account. This option
re-enables a password by changing the password back to its previous value (to
the value before using the -l option).
-w, --warndays WARN_DAYS
Set the number of days of warning before a password
change is required. The WARN_DAYS option is the number of days prior to
the password expiring that a user will be warned that their password is about
-x, --maxdays MAX_DAYS
Password complexity checking may vary from site to site. The user is urged to
select a password as complex as he or she feels comfortable with.
Set the maximum number of days a password remains valid.
, the password is required to be changed.
Passing the number -1 as MAX_DAYS will remove
checking a password's validity.
Users may not be able to change their password on a system if NIS
is enabled and they are not logged into the NIS server.
passwd uses PAM to authenticate users and to change their
User account information.
Secure user account information.
PAM configuration for passwd.
The passwd command exits with the following values:
invalid combination of options
unexpected failure, nothing done
unexpected failure, passwd file missing
passwd file busy, try again
invalid argument to option