passwd Command: Tutorial & Examples

Changing passwords

The passwd command is a crucial command-line utility in Linux used for changing user passwords. It interacts with the system's authentication files, usually located in the /etc directory, particularly /etc/shadow, where the actual password hashes are stored. It's a vital tool for maintaining the security of a Linux system, as it allows administrators to update, create, or secure user passwords.

How does passwd work?

The passwd command works by modifying the stored user password in the system. When executed, it prompts the user to enter the new password and then retype it for confirmation. Once validated, the password is encrypted and stored in the /etc/shadow file.

Importance of the passwd command

The passwd command is essential in maintaining the security of a Linux system. It allows system administrators to create, change, and manage user passwords effectively. It's also the first line of defense against unauthorized access, making it a vital tool in any Linux administrator's toolkit.

Common problems solved by passwd

One common problem that can be solved using the passwd command is user password expiration. In some Linux distributions, user passwords are set to expire after a certain period. When a password expires, the user can't log in until the password is changed. The passwd command can be used to update the expired password and allow the user to access the system.

passwd command examples

Let's have a look at some practical examples of how to use the passwd command.

  1. Changing the current user's password:


    After running the passwd command, you will be prompted to enter the new password, and then retype the new password.

  2. Changing another user's password:

    As a system administrator, you can change another user's password. For instance, to change the password for user ' tom', you would use:

    sudo passwd tom
  3. Locking and unlocking a user password:

    The passwd command can also be used to lock and unlock user accounts. To lock a user account, use the -l option:

    sudo passwd -l tom

    And to unlock it:

    sudo passwd -u tom

Typical output for these commands would be:

Changing password for tom.
New password: 
Retype new password: 
passwd: password updated successfully

This output confirms the password has been updated successfully.


The passwd command is a powerful tool for managing user passwords on a Linux system. It allows for the creation, change, and management of user passwords, thereby playing a vital role in system security. As a Linux user or administrator, mastering the passwd command is crucial for effective user management and system security.

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