userdel - delete a user login from the system
userdel [-r] login
The userdel command deletes a user login from the system by modifying
the appropriate login related files.
The userdel command requires the login argument. login is the name to
be deleted, specified as a string of printable characters. It may not
contain a colon (:) or a newline (\n).
The following option is available to this command:
-r The home directory of login is removed from the system.
This directory must exist. Following the successful
execution of this command, none of the files and
directories under the home directory will be available.
If a user is deleted and the home directory is shared
by others, then this directory is not deleted even with
the -r option.
In the event where a directory is shared by users of the same group
and the owner of that directory is deleted, then the ownership of that
directory is propagated to the next user who is sharing that
directory. The new owner is determined by looking at the order in
which the users sharing this directory are added to the /etc/passwd
file. If there is only one user remaining then the directory is
brought back to unshared mode by resetting the permissions to 755 from
This command is aware of NIS user and group entries. Only local users
and groups may be deleted or modified with this command. Attempts to
delete or modify NIS users or groups will result in an error. NIS
users and groups must be administered from the NIS server. The
userdel command may fail with the error
login x does not exist
(return value 6) if the user specified is an NIS user (see passwd(4)).
Cannot modify /etc/group file, /etc/passwd was modified
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(return value 10) is returned if a local user belongs to an NIS group
Errors may occur with the -r option if the affected directory is
within an NFS mounted file system that does not allow root privileges
across the NFS mount, and the directory or files within the directory
do not have sufficient permissions.
userdel exits with one of the following values:
0 Successful completion.
2 Invalid command syntax.
3 Invalid argument supplied to an option.
6 The login to be removed does not exist.
8 The login to be removed is in use.
10 Cannot modify the /etc/group file, but the login was removed
from the /etc/passwd file.
12 Unable to remove or modify the home directory.
13 Unable to open /etc/ptmp file or /etc/passwd file is non-
14 /etc/passwd file or /etc/ptmp file busy. Another command
may be modifying the /etc/passwd file.
17 Cannot delete entry from /etc/passwd file.
Remove the user otto from the system:
Remove the user bob from the system and delete bob's home directory
from the system:
userdel -r bob
As many users may try to write the /etc/passwd file simultaneously, a
passwd locking mechanism was deviced. If this locking fails after
subsequent retrying, userdel terminates.
Hewlett-Packard Company - 2 - HP-UX Release 11i: November 2000
passwd(1), users(1), groupadd(1M), groupdel(1M), groupmod(1M),
logins(1M), useradd(1M), usermod(1M), group(4), passwd(4),
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