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HP-UX 11i Version 3: February 2007

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chsh — change default login shell


chsh login-name [shell]

chsh -r files login-name [shell]

chsh -r nis login-name [shell]

chsh -r dce login-name [shell]


The chsh command changes the login-shell for a user's login name in the repository (see passwd(1)).

The DCE repository (-r dce) is only available if Integrated Login has been configured; see auth.adm(1M). If Integrated Login has been configured, other considerations apply. A user with appropriate DCE privileges is capable of modifying a user's shell; this is not dependent upon superuser privileges.

If the repository is not specified (as in chsh [login-name]), the login shell is changed in the /etc/passwd file only.

Run finger after running chsh to make sure the information was processed correctly.


The chsh command is a hard link to the passwd command. When chsh is executed, actually the passwd command gets executed with appropriate arguments to change the user login shell in the repository specified in command line. If no repository is specified, the login shell is changed in the /etc/passwd file.



A login name of a user.


The absolute path name of a shell. If the file /etc/shells exists, the new login shell must be listed in that file. Otherwise, you can specify one of the standard shells listed in the getusershell(3C) manual entry. If shell is omitted, it defaults to the POSIX shell, /usr/bin/sh.


The following option is recognized:


Specify the repository to which the operation is to be applied. Supported repositories include files, nis, and dce.

Security Restrictions

You must have appropriate privileges to use the optional login-name argument to change another user's login shell.



File /etc/passwd can be implemented as a Network Information Service (NIS) database.


To change the login shell for user voltaire to the default:

chsh voltaire

To change the login shell for user descartes to the C shell:

chsh descartes /usr/bin/csh

To change the login shell for user aristotle to the Korn shell in the DCE registry:

chsh -r dce aristotle /usr/bin/ksh


If two or more users try to write the /etc/passwd file at the same time, a passwd locking mechanism was devised. If this locking fails after subsequent retrying, chsh terminates.


chsh was developed by HP and the University of California, Berkeley.


/etc/shells /etc/ptmp

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