Linux is a multi-user system, which means that more than one person can interact with the same system at the same time. As a system administrator, you have the responsibility to manage the system’s users and groups by creating new users and assign them to different groups.
Occasionally, you might need to delete a user account. Perhaps because the user moved away from the organization, or it was created for a specific service that no longer runs on the system.
In Linux, you can delete a user account and all its associated files using the
This tutorial covers the
userdel command and its options.
userdel Command Syntax
The syntax for the
userdel command is as follows:
userdel [OPTIONS] USERNAME
To delete users using the
userdel command, you need to be logged in as root or a user with
How to Delete User in Linux
To delete a user account named
username using the
userdel command you would run:
When invoked, the command reads the content of the
/etc/login.defs file. Properties defined in this file override the default behavior of
USERGROUPS_ENAB is set to
yes in this file,
userdel deletes the group with the same name as the user, only if no other user is a member of this group.
The command removes the user entries from the
In most Linux distributions, when removing a user account with
userdel, the user home and mail spool directories are not removed.
--remove) option to force
userdel to remove the user’s home directory and mail spool:
userdel -r username
The command above does not remove the user files located in other file systems. You have to search for and delete the files manually.
If the user you want to remove is still logged in, or if there are running processes that belong to this user, the
userdel command does not allow to remove the user.
In this situation, it is recommended to log out the user and kill all user’s running processes with the
sudo killall -u username
Once done, you can remove the user.
Another option is to use the
--force) option that tells
userdel to forcefully remove the user account, even if the user is still logged in or if there are running processes that belong to the user.
userdel -f username
In this tutorial, you learned how to delete user accounts in Linux using the
userdel command. The same syntax applies for any Linux distribution, including Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Debian, Fedora, and Arch Linux.
userdel is a low-level utility, Debian and Ubuntu users will more likely use the friendlier
deluser command instead.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.