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Question: what is "Charlie &" for the root user? I didn't gave "Charlie &" for gecos field, I think I didn't gave any at all.

ps.: the "/sbin/nologin" doesn't matters, I just tested something


That is the default you get if you leave it out. It comes from Charlie (the) Root (user) and I've seen it show up as a name over the years in articles and papers. Don't know where it orignated but at least before 1995.

The & in the Gecos field is automatically replaced by root.

It is mentioned e.g in Matt Bishops paper (page 6). And it has its own wikipedia article which says that it is a reference to the baseball player Charlie Root

  • 4
    My understanding is the & is replaced by the username of that entry, which is root in this case, but could be used in other entries. Not that I've ever seen it used that way...
    – kurtm
    Jan 22 '14 at 20:03
  • & is replaced by the username with its first letter capitalized. The root account's full name was indeed set to Charlie Root as a joke - perhaps Charlie Root was a household name in the United States at the time BSD was created.
    – Lassi
    Aug 12 '19 at 14:27
  • There are other jokes in passwd. In NetBSD, there's toor: Bourne-again Superuser (if the root account doesn't work and you need a backup account - Bourne is a reference to Stephen Bourne who wrote the original sh shell, and a pun on born-again). NetBSD also has daemon: The devil himself for background programs.
    – Lassi
    Aug 12 '19 at 14:36

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