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On Unix systems, you have your username, say "johnsmith", and your full name, "John Smith". That's it.

Now, suppose I want to use a nickname or two - something which isn't my username, but is in a lot of use. For example, "jsmith" may be a nickname/alias for "johnsmith".

Obviously, this information can't be saved in /etc/passwd. But - is there some idiomatic/commonly used method for indicating these nicknames?

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    Indicating them where & how? email? as sources/targets of cp or mv-type commands for files in home directories? As the output from 'list all users'? What about people who don't have "nicknames" set? – Jeff Schaller Jun 25 at 14:22
  • @JeffSchaller: The more context in which such nicknames can be used - the better. ~jsmith working instead of ~johnsmith; usernames to try or to suggest in apps, like email or IRC or other messaging; associations of artifacts labeled jsmith with johnsmith by other apps, I dunno... anything and everything. – einpoklum Jun 25 at 21:37
  • @JeffSchaller: About your latter questions: nicknames will not appear as additional users when listing all users; or rather - at most one name out of the set or "real" name and nicknames. As for people without nicknames - what about them? Of course no app and no utility requires you to have a nickname. – einpoklum Jun 25 at 21:39
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Not very official but you could create a user with the other name but with the same settings (UID, GID, $HOME, password). That would allow you to use e.g. ~jsmith and ~johnsmith.

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  • 1. This would require root access; which is not a disqualifier, but not what I'm after . 2. It would be non-trivial (though quite doable) to lookup nicknames by user rather than user by nickname, with this approach. – einpoklum Jun 25 at 21:40
  • @einpoklum awk -F: '$6=="/home/johnsmith" { print $1; }' /etc/passwd seems trivial enough for me. Or awk -F: '$1!="johnsmith" && $6=="/home/johnsmith" { print $1; }' /etc/passwd if you want the aliases only without the main user. – Hauke Laging Jun 25 at 21:45
  • Well, I said "doable"... it's just that O(number of users) is non-trivial. Still, it's worth an upvote. – einpoklum Jun 25 at 22:24

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