I'm about to create user and set it's home directory inside another user's home directory - I'm wanderin' is it:

  • allowed in *nix world

  • possible (I haven't tried in test box yet)

  • and does it have any recognized negative aspect?


ftp_user1 home dir is /var/www/vhosts/website/

I want

ftp_user2 home dir to be /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder/

(of course, I'm aware that I will have to chose one user which will be owner of /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder/)


2 Answers 2


allowed in *nix world

Practically anything is allowed in the *nix world.

possible (I haven't tried in test box yet)

Yes, this is possible. When a user is assigned a home directory, that is the directory that the user will cd to by default when logging in. You can change ftp_user2's home directory with the -d option in usermod:

usermod -d [directory] [ftp_user2]

In your case, it would look like this: usermod -d /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder ftp_user2

If you still need to create ftp_user2, you can assign their home directory while creating them using useradd.

useradd -m -d /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder -s /bin/bash ftp_user2

The -m option will create the user's home directory if it does not already exist. The -d option specifies which home directory is to be assigned to the user. The -s option specifies what shell that user will use when logged in. -s is not needed, but it is usually good practice to specify a users default shell if that user will be logged in to.

and does it have any recognized negative aspect?

The only negative aspect I can think of is: If someone decides to delete ftp_user1 and their home directory, then the home directory for ftp_user2 will also be deleted.

  • 1
    I also recommend looking at the man pages for useradd and usermod.
    – Peschke
    Jun 1, 2016 at 16:56

It's possible for a user's home directory to be inside another, but it's rare, for good reason. Usually, a user can write to their home directory. If ftp_user1 can write to /var/www/vhosts/website/ then ftp_user1 can rename /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder and can create a new directory by that name, belonging to ftp_user1 and with contents chosen by ftp_user1. For example:

mv /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder.user2
mkdir /var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder
echo 'cp /bin/sh /tmp/sh.user2; chmod u+s /bin/sh.user2' >/var/www/vhosts/website/subfolder/.profile

The next time ftp_user2 logs in, their .profile will run and create a setuid shell, which allows ftp_user1 (and anyone else) to gain access to the ftp_user2 account. (Of course this proof-of-concept can be made more robust.)

If ftp_user1 cannot write to their home directory, then this can be safe, but it is somewhat confusing. There's probably a better way to do whatever drove you to this.

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