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HP-UX Reference > U


HP-UX 11i Version 3: February 2007

Technical documentation

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userdb — user database for per-user information




The user database is used for storing per-user information. It consists of the /var/adm/userdb directory and the files within it. Each file name is a two-digit hexadecimal number from 00 to ff. The directory and files are created either at installation time or by the userdbck command.

The per-user information resides in user entries in the database, and consists of any number of attribute=value pairs, which are used to define the behavior of configurable features. A per-user value in /var/adm/userdb overrides any corresponding system-wide default configured in the /etc/default/security file, as described in security(4).

The /etc/security.dsc file indicates which attributes can be configured with a per-user value in /var/adm/userdb. This list includes the following attributes which are described in security(4):


Allow or do not allow null passwords.


Audit or do not audit users.


Maximum number of authentication failures allowed.


Display or do not display last login information.


Restrict login time periods.


Minimum password length.


Number of simultaneous logins allowed per user.


Password history depth.


Minimum number of lower case characters allowed in a password.


Minimum number of upper case characters allowed in a password.


Minimum number of digit characters allowed in a password.


Minimum number of special characters allowed in a password.


Define umask for file creation.


When defining attributes, first configure default values in /etc/default/security, as described in security(4), and then configure per-user exceptions in the user database, /var/adm/userdb.

In addition to the configurable attributes, there are internal attributes that are not user configurable and are normally modified only by programs that enforce system security. The file /etc/security.dsc indicates which attributes are configurable and which are internal.

Use the userdbck command to verify or fix information in the user database, /var/adm/userdb.

To disable the user database, create a file called /var/adm/userdb/USERDB.DISABLED. This causes all database reads and writes to return an error code indicating that the database is disabled and should be ignored. Note that, if the user database is disabled for a long period and then re-enabled, it will contain stale data. This can cause unwanted side effects.


Use the userdbset command to modify information in /var/adm/userdb. Do not use a text editor, because the database contains checksums and other binary data, and editors do not follow the file locking conventions that are used to control access to the database.

NFS mounting this database is not supported.



user database


security defaults configuration file


security attributes description file

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