I create a normal user account in ubuntu using "useradd" command, but the problem is that I have to type "bash" to launch the bash shell for this user account in both the console mode (in a tty, through ctrl+alt+Fn) and the remote mode (via ssh). The most important part of bash shell for me is the auto-completion function, so my question is that how I could make the bash shell launch automatically when logging into the account.

I use ubuntu 13.04 32bit version. I appreciate for any advice!


First of all, check if useradd shows a default value for SHELL. To do that, issue:

useradd -D

This will output something like:


These values are taken from /etc/default/useradd. Now, you have 2 solutions:

  1. Edit /etc/default/useradd, and change the value of SHELL, or
  2. Override the shell's value when adding user with: useradd -D -s /bin/bash

For more information see man useradd.

  • 2
    All true and all useful, +1, but it won't help the OP. This will only affect the next user created, not the one that already exists. – terdon Apr 14 '14 at 13:43
  • Another question, as now I create a user account without home directory, its home directory defaults to the root "/", so how could I still configure the bash profile for this account? I mean for the user account with home directory, its bash profile is in the local directory (bashrc, etc.), but I do not find such file when logging in with the account I created. Thanks! – mikegao88 Apr 14 '14 at 19:05
  • Will it work, if I just copy the bashrc file to the root directory from other account? – mikegao88 Apr 14 '14 at 19:10

You probably need to set bash as your new users's login shell. If you are logged in as that user:

chsh -s /bin/bash

To change it for another user

sudo chsh -s /bin/bash username

In future you might want to use adduser instead of the low-level useradd, since it defaults to setting bash as the new login shell.

You can check the login shell (among other details) by looking at the /etc/passwd file or using

getent passwd username
  • 1
    Good approach, +1 from me! – Frantique Apr 14 '14 at 12:13
  • 1
    I think this is also very useful, thanks for answering! – mikegao88 Apr 14 '14 at 19:01

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