System-config-users problem: user database cannot be read

Phil Meyer pmeyer at
Mon Jun 4 23:34:01 UTC 2007

Gilbert Sebenste wrote:
> Hello all,
> I have a problem with one of my files and I don't know how to fix it. 
> When I run system-config-users, it reads:
> "The user database cannot be read. This problem is most likely caused 
> by a mismatch between /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow or /etc/group and 
> /etc/gshadow. The program will exit now."
> How can I fix this?
> ******************************************************************************* 
> Gilbert Sebenste                                                     
> ********
> (My opinions only!)                                                  
> ******
> Staff Meteorologist, Northern Illinois University                      
> ****
> E-mail: 
> sebenste at                                  ***
> web:                                      **
> ******************************************************************************* 

First of all, always run: vipw
to make manual edits of /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow.
Use vigr for group and gshadow.

That way you will be less likely to have this problem.

Now then, you are stuck with looking at /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow in 
two windows and making sure that they line up.

If they don't, use vipw to correct them.

Very tedious work on large user bases, but do it anyway.

Now do the same side by side comparison on group and gshadow.

These files should line up perfectly.  Its possible to be sloppy and 
run, but I wouldn't recommend it.  It pays to be neat and tidy.  GUI 
tools that expect such things can then run properly. :)

Of course, some old dogs that seem to drag their feet into the real 
world of GUI based Systems Admin, would run useradd, usermod, vipw, etc. 
without even thinking about it.  Sometimes we have to force ourselves to 
even remember that there are such things!

Good luck!

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