I have found this entry in /etc/passwd:


But there is no /var/lib/tor folder. This is on a server not a desktop.

  • 2
    This is a user you created by installing something. Most likely you installed tor.
    – Pilot6
    Jul 11, 2020 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


This is a user that is created by installing tor or tor-browser.

For instance, if you look into postinst script of tor package, you'll see:

# checking debian-tor account

uid=`getent passwd debian-tor | cut -d ":" -f 3`
home=`getent passwd debian-tor | cut -d ":" -f 6`

# if there is the uid the account is there and we can do
# the sanit(ar)y checks otherwise we can safely create it.

if [ "$uid" ]; then
    if [ "$home" = "/var/lib/tor" ]; then
        #echo "debian-tor homedir check: ok"
        echo "ERROR: debian-tor account has an unexpected home directory!"
        echo "It should be '/var/lib/tor', but it is '$home'."
        echo "Removing the debian-tor user might fix this, but the question"
        echo "remains how you got into this mess to begin with."
        exit 1
    adduser --quiet \
        --system \
        --disabled-password \
        --home /var/lib/tor \
        --no-create-home \
        --shell /bin/false \
        --group \

for i in lib log; do
    if ! [ -d "/var/$i/tor" ]; then
        echo "Something or somebody made /var/$i/tor disappear."
        echo "Creating one for you again."
        mkdir "/var/$i/tor"

which restorecon >/dev/null 2>&1 && restorecon /var/lib/tor
chown debian-tor:debian-tor /var/lib/tor
chmod 02700 /var/lib/tor

which restorecon >/dev/null 2>&1 && restorecon /var/log/tor
chown debian-tor:adm /var/log/tor
chmod 02750 /var/log/tor

But this user is not removed when you uninstall tor. I don't see anything that removes the user in prerm, or postrm script.

So it means that you have tor installed, or installed it previously.

There is no harm in having some extra user in your system, but you can remove it if you like.

You can remove the user by running

sudo deluser debian-tor
  • that's exactly why I have asked. I have not nor would I ever install tor on a web server. So my follow-up question is how would i see the post-installation file that you are referencing in your answer and how to I remove the user and purge my system? If I run tor -v it is not installed. also, there is no /var/lib/tor directory.
    – fndtn357
    Jul 11, 2020 at 12:34
  • 1
    I added howto remove the user from your system. The postinst file is located in tor deb. Most likely someone installed tor and then removed it. I can't guess more.
    – Pilot6
    Jul 11, 2020 at 12:38
  • thanks. interesting response afterward - Removing user debian-tor' ... Warning: group debian-tor' has no more members. Done.
    – fndtn357
    Jul 11, 2020 at 12:41
  • So you can remove the group too. Nothing remarkable. The group had only one user.
    – Pilot6
    Jul 11, 2020 at 12:42
  • 2
    Most likely the group was automatically deleted when you deleted the only user from it.
    – Pilot6
    Jul 11, 2020 at 12:45

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