If I create user khadija with username: khadija, how can I populate the fifth field of /etc/passwd?

mysql:x:27:27:MySQL Server:/var/lib/mysql:/bin/bash

I have not found anything under the useradd man page, and cannot access the Internet in this setup.

Are there any other options apart from editing /etc/passwd manually?


Have a look at man usermod it shows the -c option which is used to modify the comment field for an account in /etc/passwd.


usermod -c "raspberry pi user account" pi

To update the comments field for the 'pi' user account.

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  • Great thanks. I didn't automatically associate 'user's password file comment field' with what I was looking for. – user Oct 14 '14 at 3:56
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    All good.. Very often it's just a case of getting the terminology right in order to find what you're looking for. – captcha Oct 14 '14 at 3:58

You can edit the field by editing the file, or you can use usermod -c, although nowadays it is called the comment field in man 5 passwd, this was not always the case, it used to be the GECOS field on UNIX, although that name did not reflect the use it had: providing general information.

The proper population is a comma separated list of four (possible empty) strings. You still see this in how some programs create this part of the passwd entry, pre-seeding it with UserName,,,.

The first of those fields should contain the full user name (or program name if used for a daemon etc.); the second the physical location; the third (office) telephone; and the fourth home phone (sometimes telex/fax).

Programs like finger can be used to display a persons information, including the structured contents of that field. I have actually used that feature (with Yellow Pages to get information available on all workstation), before the advent of LDAP and personal address books.

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