For some dislexic reason (or haven't slept enough) I typed

deluser man

instead of the more common

man deluser

... as you can imagine, I just deleted man user! Never happened before...

How can I properly restore system's man user?

  • 5
    This is a perfect example why you don't use root for things that don't require root. Aug 14, 2015 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


There is a utility called update-passwd that appears to do this safely for you:

       update-passwd - safely update /etc/passwd, /etc/shadow and /etc/group

       update-passwd [options]

       update-passwd   handles   updates   of   /etc/passwd,  /etc/shadow  and
       /etc/group on running Debian systems.  It compares the current files to
       master  copies, distributed in the base-passwd package, and updates all
       entries in the global system range (that is, 0–99).

First check the current entry

$ getent passwd man

Now let's delete it

$ sudo deluser man
[sudo] password for steeldriver: 
Removing user `man' ...
Warning: group `man' has no more members.

Check it's really gone

$ getent passwd man


$ sudo update-passwd --dry-run
Adding group "man" (12)
Adding user "man" (6)
Would commit 2 changes

OK let's do it

$ sudo update-passwd
2 changes have been made, rewriting files

Now confirm the restored password file entry

$ getent passwd man
  • 2
    Excellent + upvoted. Please accept this instead of mine ;)
    – Rinzwind
    Aug 11, 2015 at 16:34

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