Cannot Add User

Peter Risdon peter at
Wed Feb 4 11:14:31 PST 2004

** Sometime around 09:21 -0500 02/04/2004, Lowell Gilbert sent everyone:

>> Vince Sabio <vince at> writes:
>> [...]
>> > I'm now trying to install Postfix, and the problem I'm running into is
>>> that I cannot create new user accounts. I created several user
>>> accounts during installation, and they seem to be fine. But when I
>>> [manually] create entries in /etc/passwd, master.passwd, and group,
>>> the entries are 'ignored' -- e.g., a "chown [newuser] [filename]"
>>> command fails, attempts to su from root into the user account fail,
>>> etc. When I try to create the user via adduser (using the standard
>>> defaults), the account creation step fails with the following error:
>> > pw: user '[newuser]' disappeared during update
>> It sounds like you've messed up your user database. Try running
>> pwd_mkdb(8) by hand to get it straightened out. In future, remember
>> not to edit passwd and so forth by hand; stick with adduser(8) and/or
>> vipw(8) to avoid shooting yourself in the foot like this.
I notice you don't recommend pw(8). I have some scripts that use pw(8) 
to add users with things like a /nonexistent shell - they do other stuff 
to do with quotas, smbpasswd and so on and allow it all to be managed in 
a single operation from a web interface. Am I storing up problems for 
myself like this? It has been fine so far.


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