UNIX Tutorials, Tips, Tricks and Shell Scripts

How to Change your Password in UNIX...and FREE UNIX Tutorials for Beginners

Your UNIX username and password combination authenticates who you are to the system that you are logging on to. If another person gains access to the system using your username and password and then proceeds to perform some malicious activities, the login trail will be followed back to you. For this reason, it is wise to follow some guidelines when setting your password:

∑ Select a password you can remember. It should not be a password you need to write down. If you forget your password, the system administrator will need to assign you a new one.

∑ Do not use words from the dictionary. There are computer programs capable of testing every dictionary word within minutes. A combination of two dictionary words (e.g. livefire) would be a better choice.

∑ Avoid easily guessed passwords. Passwords like family member names or your dog's name do not make good passwords.

∑ Make your password longer than 6 characters.

∑ Use both letters and numbers for your password.

∑ Use both uppercase and lowercase letters.
Each new user account has a default password associated with it. The default password may be different for each new account, or it may be the same. This decision is left to the system administrator. Regardless of which one he or she chooses, you should change the default password when you first login to a system.

[ If you are new to UNIX and need an overview of important UNIX commands and concepts, check out our Basic UNIX Commands and Concepts Tutorial for Beginners ]

The passwd command is used to change your login password. Once you enter passwd at the command line prompt and press the enter key on your keyboard, you will be prompted for your old password and then will be prompted two times for the new password. A successful password change looks like this:

$ passwd
Changing password for student1
(current) UNIX password:
New UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully

You should change your password on a regular basis. Some computer systems and/or system administrators will force you to change your password frequently, but you should be proactive and change it even if you are not forced to.

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