Home Technology what is gecos in linux? - get complete details

what is gecos in linux? – get complete details

Linux is a popular open-source OS that consists of many components and features. Each one plays a crucial role in the overall performance of the system. GECOS is a key component of user account management. This article will explore the GECOS Field, its role in Linux and how to use it.

Understanding GECOS

GECOS was the operating system that General Electric developed in the early days. Later, the term took on a new meaning in Unix and then Linux.

GECOS is part of the /etc/passwd, a vital file that stores local account information. The GECOS file contains additional information about each user not included in other fields of the /etc/passwd.

GECOS Field Structure

The GECOS field has traditionally been divided into four sections separated by commas. They include:

  • Full Name: This is the user’s full name, or a descriptive phrase.
  • This number is often used to identify the location of a particular office in a larger organization.
  • Phone Number: This is the user’s home or work phone number.
  • Other Contact: A second contact, such as an email address.

This structure is a reflection of its origins, when Unix was used by large organizations. It is important to note that today, the use of these fields can be much more flexible, and customized according to the needs of an organization or individual users.

Interacting With the GECOS Field

The GECOS is not just a static field of information, but can also be modified using command-line tools. The chfn command (Change Finger), and the Usermod commands are the two primary ways of interacting with the GECOS Field.

The H3 Command

chfn allows administrators and users to edit the GECOS information. You can edit GECOS entries by running the command, followed by the username.

the usermod Command

Usermod allows Linux system administrators to edit user accounts. Usermod is a Linux utility that has many features. One of them is the ability to change GECOS fields. It is a root-level access program that can be used to make large-scale changes in user information.

GECOS and Modern Linux

Although the GECOS field’s traditional use may seem outdated, it still plays an important role in modern Linux systems. The GECOS field is primarily used to store the full names of users, but it can also be used for any other information that system administrators deem relevant.

In environments that use system emails, the GECOS fields could contain each user’s personal email address. The GECOS field can be used in scripts to pull information specific to a user from that field.


The GECOS field, although it may look like an old relic of Unix’s early days, still serves a purpose on modern Linux systems. The GECOS field is a useful tool for system administrators because of its ability to store extra user information, and the scripting capabilities. Linux is evolving, and elements like the GECOS area remind us of Linux’s rich history.


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