I'm trying to create user without password like this:

sudo adduser \
   --system \
   --shell /bin/bash \
   --gecos ‘User for managing of git version control’ \
   --group \
   --disabled-password \
   --home /home/git \

It's created fine. But when I try to login under the git user I'm getting the password entering:

su git

When I leave it empty I get an error:

su: Authentication failed

What's wrong?

  • 1
    Nothing is wrong, the authentication failed as expected. You won't get a "there is no password, you can't login" error message. – scai Nov 26 '12 at 13:43
  • But I need to create .ssh folder under the git user, how should I do that? – Erik Nov 26 '12 at 13:46
  • 1
    Either create it as root and set the correct permissions, or execute su git as root where you don't have to provide a password. – scai Nov 26 '12 at 13:46
  • 4
    By using chmod and chown. – scai Nov 26 '12 at 13:52
  • 1
    Off topic, but it's "a user" not "an user". writersdigest.com/online-editor/… – David Baucum Aug 17 at 19:53
up vote 28 down vote accepted

You've created a user with a “disabled password”, meaning that there is no password that will let you log in as this used. This is different from creating a user that anyone can log in as without supplying a password, which is achieved by specifying an empty password and is very rarely useful.

In order to execute commands as such “system” users who don't log in normally, you need to hop via the root account:

su -c 'su git -c "git init"'


sudo -u git git init

If you want certain users to be able to run commands as the git user without letting them run commands as root, set up sudo (run visudo as root and add a line like %gitters ALL = (git) ALL).

The --disabled-password option will not set a password, meaning no password is legal, but login is still possible (for example with SSH RSA keys).

To create an user without a password, use passwd -d $username after the user is created to make the password empty. Note not all systems allow users with empty password to log in.

If you want to access the system under the git user you should use sudo:

sudo -s -u git


sudo su - git

Create an user with empty password

sudo useradd test-user-0
echo test-user-0:U6aMy0wojraho | sudo chpasswd -e
su test-user-0

The password prompt still shows unfortunately.

But if you just hit enter without typing anything, and it logins as the user test-user-0.

The -e flags tells chpasswd that the password is already encrypted, and U6aMy0wojraho is the hash of the empty string.

Tested on Ubuntu 18.04.

BusyBox autologin

On the terminal at least, you don't need to create an user without a password to allow someone to not type their passwords everytime, hacking inittab a bit is enough: How to login automatically without typing the root username or password in Buildroot BusyBox init?

I think this is what you want:

adduser --disabled-password --shell /bin/bash --gecos "User" $username

You'll be able to

su $username

to run commands as that user, in /bin/bash or whatever shell you specify. --gecos "User" just put "User" into the comment field so you aren't prompted for that information. You can put whatever you want into that field.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.