Adduser – Create a Linux user for your VPS

As soon as you have created your droplet or VPS, you should add a regular user for yourself too. This is important, since you do not want to run your server as root.

The root has simply too much power. A short moment of distraction, or even a typo, when entering a command can have disastrous repercussions for the health of your VPS.

It is much safer to add a regular Linux user and do the necessary administration work while you are logged in as a regular Linux user.

In this post we going to create such a user for John Doe – or Jane Doe if you like.

Unless you have added one or more SSH Keys when you created the VPS, your host e-mailed you a root password. Login as a root with either a SSH Key or the password.

When you sign in over SSH as a root, you are welcomed by the prompt:

The # sign in the prompt indicates that you are logged in as the root.

The # is usually referred to as the number sign or hash, but also known as pound, or octothorpe (eight points).


To create a user with the name jdoe, we use the adduser command. Actually a small, interactive script.

You append the name of the user that you want to create. In this example that is jdoe.

So, type at that prompt:

The script will ask you to enter some details regarding user jdoe.

The password is mandatory, all other details are optional.

Besides the password, I suggest that you enter at least the Full Name of the user concerned.

The entire interaction looks like this:

Whenever the systems offers you a number of options to enter, the default option – here ‘Y’ – is capitalized.

When everything is correct, hit the <return> key or enter ‘y’.

Done. You have added user jdoe.

When a regular Linux user like jdoe logs in, the system response like this:

Instead of the hash, regular users see a dollar sign in the prompt.

So whenever you see the # in the prompt, be extra careful what you enter.

Change a User’s Password as Root

As the root, you can change a user’s password anytime.

To alter for example the password for John Doe, you enter:

The system will ask you to type and retype the new the password.

That is it.

Change a Your Password as User

Most users want to be sure that nobody knows his password. Not even the system administrator.

That is why a user is always able to change his own password. Simply by entering:

First, the user needs to enter the current password to verify the identity of the user.

After that, the system will ask the user to enter the new password – twice.

When the user reenters the existing password, the system will reply with:

Adding or changing a password for the root works exactly the same way, but only when logged in as the root or a user with root privileges.

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