CHFN(1) User Commands CHFN(1)
chfn - change real user name and information
chfn [options] [LOGIN]
The chfn command changes user fullname, office room number, office
phone number, and home phone number information for a user's account.
This information is typically printed by finger(1) and similar
programs. A normal user may only change the fields for her own account,
subject to the restrictions in /etc/login.defs. (The default
configuration is to prevent users from changing their fullname.) The
superuser may change any field for any account. Additionally, only the
superuser may use the -o option to change the undefined portions of the
These fields must not contain any colons. Except for the other field,
they should not contain any comma or equal sign. It is also recommended
to avoid non-US-ASCII characters, but this is only enforced for the
phone numbers. The other field is used to store accounting information
used by other applications.
The options which apply to the chfn command are:
-f, --full-name FULL_NAME
Change the user's full name.
-h, --home-phone HOME_PHONE
Change the user's home phone number.
-o, --other OTHER
Change the user's other GECOS information. This field is used to
store accounting information used by other applications, and can be
changed only by a superuser.
-r, --room ROOM_NUMBER
Change the user's room number.
-R, --root CHROOT_DIR
Apply changes in the CHROOT_DIR directory and use the configuration
files from the CHROOT_DIR directory.
Display help message and exit.
-w, --work-phone WORK_PHONE
Change the user's office phone number.
If none of the options are selected, chfn operates in an interactive
fashion, prompting the user with the current values for all of the
fields. Enter the new value to change the field, or leave the line
blank to use the current value. The current value is displayed between
a pair of [ ] marks. Without options, chfn prompts for the current user
The following configuration variables in /etc/login.defs change the
behavior of this tool:
This parameter specifies which values in the gecos field of the
/etc/passwd file may be changed by regular users using the chfn
program. It can be any combination of letters f, r, w, h, for Full
name, Room number, Work phone, and Home phone, respectively. For
backward compatibility, yes is equivalent to rwh and no is
equivalent to frwh. If not specified, only the superuser can make
any changes. The most restrictive setting is better achieved by not
installing chfn SUID.
Shadow password suite configuration.
User account information.
chsh(1), login.defs(5), passwd(5).
shadow-utils 4.8.1 11/29/2022 CHFN(1)
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