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How to Delete a User in Linux

Lets face it, even though we all use Linux as our daily driver, we forget the simplest task all the time. Let it be pinging a port or decode base64 or adding a user to a group or at last, it can be deleting a user. We all google things and it just makes our life easier. This blog is all about the last one, which is deleting a user in linux and let me share some of the methods i know in deleting user in Linux environment.

Using the userdel Command

Not all of us want to go into multiple files and tinker with stuff, we just want to delete the user that left the org and go on with our lives. For those of you, Open a terminal and type the following command

sudo userdel username

Replace “username” with the actual username you want to delete. The userdel command removes the user account and associated files, such as the home directory.

If you want to keep the home directory and only remove the user account, use the -r option:

sudo userdel -r username

This command not only deletes the user but also removes the home directory and mail spool.

Using the deluser Command

Some Linux distros, like Debian and its derivatives, provide the deluser command as a user-friendly alternative to userdel. It offers a simplified syntax

sudo deluser username

Similar to userdel, you can use the –remove-home option to delete the home directory as well

sudo deluser --remove-home username

Deleting User and Home Directory Separately:

If you prefer a more granular way, you can delete the user and home directory separately using the following commands

sudo userdel username
sudo rm -r /home/username

This method provides greater control, allowing you to retain or archive the home directory if needed.

Editing the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow Files:

While manually editing system files is not recommended for anyone, some of us anyways want to do it the hard way, and to those of you. The user information is stored in the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files. But keep in mind that this doesn’t delete all the traces of the user in the system. To delete a user, open these files in a text editor and remove the corresponding lines

sudo nano /etc/passwd
sudo nano /etc/shadow

Locate the line containing the username, delete it, and save the changes.

Note: This method requires careful attention to detail, as errors in these files can lead to system instability.

Using the userdel Command with Force Option:

In some cases, a user may have active processes or sessions preventing their deletion. To forcefully remove a user, you can use the -f option with userdel

sudo userdel -f username

Be cautious when using the force option, as it terminates active processes associated with the user.


User above command and delete any user you guys want to and also try deleting your current user with force and let me know what happens. I am too scared to try it in prod but please feel free to try it in your prod and let me know what happens. [ I can try it in my local as well but i am too lazy to try. ] 

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