Using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.9
Shell = sh

When I execute ... getent group <group-name> -- command 1

e.g .

>>> getent group grp1
    grp1:VAS:67458 usr3,usr2,usr1

>>> groups usr4
    usr4: unixuser grp1 

>>> getent group grp1
    grp1:VAS:67458 usr4,usr3,usr2,usr1  

result is not up to date, certain users are missing from the response.

When I execute ... groups <user-name> -- command 2

it returns the correct groups the user is a member of and command 1 now includes this user in the group from the getent command that was previously missing

Please help me understand what is going on and if there is a better way to list the members of a given unix group.


enter image description here

  • Please edit your Question and show us the commands you use, and their results. Also show us the contents of /etc/nsswitch.conf.
    – waltinator
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 22:40
  • 1
    You're using VAS which is an AD bridge solution and it can (and will) cache results. What you're seeing is how VAS works. Talk to the software vendor. Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 2:36
  • I’m voting to close this question because this is how third party vendor software works. Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 2:37
  • 1
    @StephenHarris could you clarify what you meant. Linux systems are entirely comprised of "third party" software so it's unclear why we would close such questions. Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


The commands you are using are fine from a linux perspective. But what's happening here is that linux doesn't know about usr4 or their groups until prompted to go find it with groups usr4.

Your system is configured to use nisplus in nsswitch.conf, this means that there is a database on another machine which stores users and groups. Such bridges virtually never involve copying the entire database onto your local unix machine, especially because some directory servers can hold thousands of users.

So what happens is that groups usr4 triggers nisplus to go and search for user usr4 and evaluate their groups. This updates a local cache of the information updating the information for the subsequent getent group grp1.

However getent group grp1 doesn't trigger nisplus to discover every possible user on the directory server in that group. That operation could be extremely costly and pull back thousands of users.

Unfortunately, your only option will be to interrogate the remote server (AD server) or ask the sys admins to look for you.

If you have LDAP access on the remote directory server then you may be able to construct an ldap query and use openldap or similar to run the query.

  • Thanks @PhilipCouling . What options would admins have that i wouldn't to determine the set of members for a given Unix Group?
    – bezbiker
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 0:38
  • @bezbiker I don't know your organisation so I don't know what access you might have, but I'm assuming your organisation has access to just go look on the remote (Active Directory?) server. How they would do that is beyond my knowledge as it's a Windows thing. Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 0:42
  • Thanks @Philip Couling. I owe u a cup of cofee
    – bezbiker
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 19:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .