migrating users from one machine to another machine

Daniel Bye danielby at slightlystrange.org
Fri Oct 2 09:15:25 UTC 2009

On Fri, Oct 02, 2009 at 06:45:12AM +0700, Olivier Nicole wrote:
> Hi,
> > What is the best way of migrating users from one machine (FreeBSD
> > 6.3) to a new machine (FreeBSD 7.2)?
> > I need to migrate their user account settings (shell, password,
> > expiry etc) and also their data that they have in their directories.
> Basically:
> - you need to vipw on both machine and copy the user accounts from the
>   old machine to the new machine, that is fast;

Or copy /etc/passwd from the old machine to the new one, and run 
pwd_mkdb, which is essentially what vipw does anyway.

And don't forget to sync your groups file as well!


> - you need to copy the home directories of your users from one machine
>   to the other, that can take long time if you have a lot of users
>   with a lot of data.
> To be sure that there is no change being made by the users while you
> are copying the data/accounts, you must disable any login during the
> copy process.
> You can practice copying the accounts while the machines are online
> (login enabled); but be certain to do a final copy with the machine
> offline (login disabled).
> If copying data would take too long time and you cannot afford to put
> the system offline for such a long period, you could install rsync on
> both machines.
> - keep machines online and rsync the users data from the old machine
>   to the new one.
> - repeat rsyncing indefinitely, this will continue copying file that
>   has changed.
> - put the machine offline and do a last rsync: that one should not
>   take too long as it will only copy what has changed since the very
>   last run of rsync.
> Another way regarding the users' data, if they reside on a separate
> hard disk, you can simply physically mount that hard disk in the new
> machine.
> Best regards,
> Olivier
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Daniel Bye
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