Guest session and user management on Fedora 15

User management on Fedora 15 is just as easy as on any other distribution or operating system. And the graphical user management tools (there are two) are very intuitive to use. There are two types of user accounts on Fedora 15 – Standard and Administrator. The Administrator has root or super user privileges. During installation, the user created may be added to the Administrators group. A user in this group can execute all commands using sudo.

Aside from being able to configure Standard and Administrator accounts, you can also enable the Guest account, which is just a temporary account (with the login name “Guest”) that may be used to log into the system, like any other regular user account. It is, however, passwordless and any data generated during a guest session using this account is temporary. If you have to give someone temporary access to your Fedora 15-powered computer, you may use this account instead of creating a Standard account for the person.

The Guest account is available by default on Mandriva. A similar feature is available on Ubuntu, but the one on Ubuntu has to be started from an active session. To enable the Guest account, you need to install the xguest package. Use yum from the command line or use the graphical package manager to install it. Once installed, the Guest account name will be available on the login screen. As noted earlier, the Guest account is passwordless.

Standard Accounts – The account configured during installation is a Standard account. If it is added to the Administrators group, then it is an Administrator account. To manage your account during an active session, start the User Accounts application from System Settings. Using this tool, you can change the account type to Administrator, if you can authenticate successfully as root. You can also change your password, if that feature has not been disabled. If your password has been locked by the administrator, you cannot change your password.

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By default, automatic login, or auto-login, is disabled, but you may enable it, if there is a need to.

An account’s password may be set manually, or you can have the system generate one. A user may be forced to change his password at next login.

While the User Accounts tool is used to manage an account’s properties, the Users and Groups application, accessible from Applications > Other > Users and Groups in GNOME 3 Fallback mode, is the system-wide user management application. This is the application to use if you want to create users and groups, delete user accounts, and perform other system-wide user account-related activities.

Creating an account is as simple as specifying the login name, name and password.

All user accounts are listed on the Users and Groups main window.

An account’s properties may be modified from the User Properties window.

From the Account Info tab, you may configure the account to expire at a future date. You may also lock the account’s password, which effectively disables the password. If a password is locked, the user cannot change the password

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From the Password Info tab, you may enable password aging, or set the password to expire at a certain date. “Days before change allowed” specifies the minimum number of days between password changes. If the value is zero, a user may change the password at any time.

“Days before account inactive” is the number of days after a password expires before the account is permanently disabled. A value of 0 disables the account as soon as the password expires, and -1 disables the feature, which is the default.

When you create an account on a running system, you may add it to the Administrators groups by adding it to the wheel group. That changes the account from a Standard to an Administrator type.

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