Trevor logs into his account on ssh://foobar.university.edu as one of the developers on the box, and he gets the message:

 id: cannot find name for group ID 131

Trevor then checks this out using

 vim /etc/group


Trevor discovers that there is no 131 anywhere in the /etc/group file.

Trevor then runs id ...

 > id trevor
 uid=4460(trevor) gid=131 groups=48(foobar),51(doobar),131

To discover his primary group apparently does not have a name attached to it.


  • What likely happened to cause this circumstance on the foobar.university.edu box ?
  • Suppose trevor wants to fix this (e.g., by just creating a "trevor" group that maps to GID 131) what is the best way to do this without potentially breaking anything else on the server ?
  • Or maybe you have an incorrectaccess right on /etc/group file. – Pavel Patrin Apr 3 '15 at 13:32

What likely happened is that the UID and GID are provided to the server via LDAP. If the /etc/group file doesn't contain the translation for the GID, then the server administrators likely just failed to update the group definitions. What can you do? Not much. The user id is controlled by the administrator. (Now if you happen to have ROOT privileges, you can add the group into /etc/group. You should also check to see if any other user accounts are using the same group, and if they are, name the group appropriately).

  • 6
    Thanks for the reply. Additional note: If you do have sufficient privileges; adding to group file can be done via groupadd --gid 131 foobargroup – dreftymac Nov 6 '12 at 1:54
  • @dreftymac Assuming that running id reports the same ID for uid, gid and groups, I guess it is safe to groupadd -gID username? – XXX Jul 9 '16 at 7:46

This happened when my user "jackson" wasn't assigned a group. I knew the solo group id for my user was 1000 (when a user is created with $ adduser and no parameters are defined, the user is assigned the next ids available beyond 999. The first getting uid 1000 and gid 1000).

This warning means your user does not belong to a group so what you need to do is to add the user to a group. Either have your admin help you like @sparticvs mentioned or if you have root privileges / it's your machine you can do the following:

$ addgroup [your_user_name]
$ usermod -a -G [your_user_name] [your_user_name]

And that should fix it (untested)

What I did was simply (advanced)

  • $ sudo vi /etc/group
  • modify the line of web:x:1001: to web:x:1000:jackson

Which made my user jackson belong to the web group.

FYI if you're not familiar with vim I do not recommend the "advanced" steps, if you're really really desperate use $ sudo nano /etc/group

  • good job on the advanced disclaimer ... that could cause some unhappiness and breakage if one were not aware of the implications. – dreftymac Jan 6 '17 at 15:22
  • A better option than using vi directly is to use the specialised version, vigr. It makes a temporary copy and checks the syntax before saving, making it a lot safer when editing such an important. It's available in BSD and GNU/Linux (from the util-linux package). Similar tools exist for other important files, e.g., vipw, visudo . – Anthony Geoghegan Jul 31 '17 at 20:54

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