Fun with passwd files

matt . fasterdisco at
Sat Nov 26 22:31:31 GMT 2005

Hey folks,

I wonder if anybody can help me out here...


I'm doing a user migration.  I'm manually populating the /etc/master.passwd
with user entries from the old box.  I run pwd_mkdb on the
master.passwdfile.  This was working dandy until a few moments ago.  I
added a user, then
attempted to delete the user using "pw userdel <username>" and I get this:

host# pw userdel jschneider
pw: user 'jschneider' does not exist: No such file or directory

This was weird.  I can usermod, usershow and finger "jschneider" just fine.
When I change jschneider's password using passwd, magically I am now able to
delete him using "pw userdel".

I found out jschneider was being added to /etc/master.passwd but not into
/etc/passwd.  However previous users I had manually added using the same
method did end up in the /etc/passwd file.  So I'm confused.  Now it seems
any user I manually add to master.passwd and run pwd_mkdb on, doesn't get
populated into /etc/passwd.  Any clue what's going on here?

kind regards,


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