GROUP(5) Standards, Environments, and Macros GROUP(5)


group - group file


The group file is a local source of group information. The group file can
be used in conjunction with other group sources, including the NIS maps
group.byname and group.bygid, or group information stored on an LDAP
server. Programs use the getgrnam(3C) routines to access this

The group file contains a one-line entry for each group recognized by the
system, of the form:

groupname:password: gid:user-list


The name of the group. A string consisting of lower case
alphabetic characters and numeric characters. Neither a
colon (:) nor a NEWLINE can be part of a groupname. The
string must be less than MAXGLEN-1, usually 8, characters

The group's unique numerical ID (GID) within the system.

A comma-separated list of users allowed in the group.

The maximum value of the gid field is 2147483647. To maximize
interoperability and compatibility, administrators are recommended to
assign groups using the range of GIDs below 60000 where possible.

If the password field is empty, no password is demanded. During user
identification and authentication, the supplementary group access list is
initialized sequentially from information in this file. If a user is in
more groups than the system is configured for, {NGROUPS_MAX}, a warning
will be given and subsequent group specifications will be ignored.

Malformed entries cause routines that read this file to halt, in which
case group assignments specified further along are never made. To prevent
this from happening, use grpck(1B) to check the /etc/group database from
time to time.

If the number of characters in an entry exceeds 2047, group maintenance
commands, such as groupdel(8) and groupmod(8), fail.

Previous releases used a group entry beginning with a `+' (plus sign) or
`-' (minus sign) to selectively incorporate entries from a naming service
source (for example, an NIS map or data from an LDAP server) for group.
If still required, this is supported by specifying group:compat in
nsswitch.conf(5). The compat source may not be supported in future
releases. Possible sources are files followed by ldap. This has the
effect of incorporating information from an LDAP server after the group


Example 1: Example group File.

The following is an example of a group file:


and the sample group entry from nsswitch.conf:

group: files ldap

With these entries, the group stooges will have members larry, moe, and
curly, and all groups listed on the LDAP server are effectively
incorporated after the entry for stooges.

If the group file was:


and the group entry from nsswitch.conf:

group: compat

all the groups listed in the NIS group.bygid and group.byname maps would
be effectively incorporated after the entry for stooges.


groups(1), newgrp(1), grpck(1B), getgrnam(3C), initgroups(3C),
unistd.h(3HEAD), nsswitch.conf(5), groupadd(8), groupdel(8), groupmod(8)

System Administration Guide: Basic Administration

February 25, 2017 GROUP(5)