Raspberry Pi: User Management Guide

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Customize Users, Groups, and Permissions

Your Raspberry Pi is a powerful tool for customization, so why not start by personalizing your user account? In this guide, we’ll show you how to change the default ‘pi’ user to your preferred username, giving your Raspberry Pi a more personalized touch.

How to Change the Default User

Why Change the Default ‘pi’ User?

The ‘pi’ user is the default username on Raspberry Pi OS, but you might have reasons for wanting to change it:

  • Privacy and Security: Using a unique username makes your system less predictable and more secure, as attackers often target the ‘pi’ user account.

  • Customization: Personalizing your Raspberry Pi starts with using your own username, making it feel more like your own system.

Create a New User:
  • Log in to your Raspberry Pi as the ‘pi’ user.
  • Open a terminal and use the following command to create a new user, replacing “new_username” with your desired username:
sudo adduser new_username
Grant Administrative Privileges:
  • To give your new user administrative privileges (similar to the ‘pi’ user), add them to the ‘sudo’ group using the following command:
sudo usermod -aG sudo new_username
Log Out and Log In:
  • Log out of the ‘pi’ user account and then log in with your new username to ensure everything is working correctly.
Backup and Migrate Data (Optional):
  • If you want to transfer data from your ‘pi’ user to the new user, you can use commands like ‘cp’ or ‘rsync’ to do so. This step is optional, and you can choose to keep your old data in your ‘pi’ user’s home directory.
Disable the ‘pi’ User (Optional):
  • If you’re confident that you won’t need the ‘pi’ user anymore, you can disable it with the following command:
sudo usermod --expiredate 1 pi

How to Rename the Home Directory

If you have changed the default user, you may want to also change the home directory name. Renaming the home directory of a user on a Raspberry Pi can be a bit more involved because it involves not only changing the directory name but also updating various configuration files to reflect the new home directory path. Here are the steps to rename the home directory of a user:

Please be very cautious when performing these steps. Incorrectly modifying system files can lead to issues. Ensure you have a backup of important data and configuration files before proceeding.

Create a New User:
  • If you haven’t already, create a new user account with the desired username. For this example, we’ll use “new_user” as the new username.
sudo adduser new_user
Log Out and Log In:
  • Log out of the old user account (the one with the old home directory name) and log in with the new user account.
Create a New Home Directory:
  • Create a new home directory for the new user. This directory will have the name you want for the new home directory. For example, if you want the new home directory to be “/home/new_user,” you can create it with the following command:
sudo mkdir /home/new_user
Copy Data from the Old Home Directory (Optional):
  • If you have data in the old home directory that you want to move to the new one, you can use the rsync command to copy it. For example:
sudo rsync -av /home/old_user/ /home/new_user/
  • Replace “old_user” with the old username and “new_user” with the new username.

Update User’s Home Directory:
  • To update the user’s home directory in the user database, you can use the usermod command:
sudo usermod -d /home/new_user -m new_user
  • This command sets the new home directory for the “new_user” and moves the contents from the old home directory to the new one.

Update Permissions (if copying data):
  • After copying data, you may need to update the ownership and permissions of the new home directory. Use the chown command to do this:
sudo chown -R new_user:new_user /home/new_user
  • Replace “new_user” with the new username.

Update Any References:
  • Finally, make sure to update any references to the old home directory with the new one in configuration files, scripts, or any other places where the old home directory path is used.

Please exercise caution while performing these steps and back up any important data. Renaming a home directory can affect user-specific configuration settings and permissions, so thorough testing and verification are essential to ensure a smooth transition.

How to Change Root Password

Why Change the Root Password?

It’s essential to change the root password to enhance the overall security of your Raspberry Pi, especially if you plan to use it in any networked or publicly accessible environment. When changing the root password, make sure to use a strong, complex password that is not easily guessable.

To change the root user’s password on a Raspberry Pi running Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian), you can use the passwd command. Here are the steps to change the root user’s password:

  • Open a Terminal:

    Open a terminal window on your Raspberry Pi. You can do this by clicking on the terminal icon in the taskbar if you’re using the graphical interface, or you can access it via SSH if you’re connected remotely.

  • Log in as the Superuser:

    To change the root user’s password, you need superuser (root) privileges. You can switch to the root user by using the su command. Enter the following command and provide the root password when prompted:

sudo su
Change the Root Password:

Once you’re logged in as the root user, use the passwd command to change the password. Replace “new_password” with the desired password for the root user:

  • You’ll be prompted to enter the new password twice for confirmation. After entering the new password successfully, it will be changed.

  • Exit the Root Shell:

    After changing the root password, it’s a good practice to exit the root shell to return to your regular user account. You can do this by typing:


Now, the root user’s password on your Raspberry Pi has been changed to the one you specified. Remember to keep your root password secure and don’t share it with others, as the root user has the highest level of system access.

How to Create New User Groups

Why Create New User Groups?

Creating user groups is a fundamental part of user and permission management in Linux-based systems. It allows for organized access control, enhances security, and facilitates collaboration and resource isolation, making it a valuable tool for system administrators and users alike.

To create a new user group and add users to that group on a Raspberry Pi, you can use the groupadd and usermod commands. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Creating a New User Group:
  • Open a terminal on your Raspberry Pi.

  • To create a new user group, use the groupadd command. Replace “newgroup” with the name you want for the new group:

sudo groupadd newgroup
Adding Users to the New Group:
  • To add users to the newly created group, you can use the usermod command. Replace “username” with the username of the user you want to add to the group, and “newgroup” with the name of the new group:

sudo usermod -a -G newgroup username
  • The -a flag ensures that the user is added to the group without removing them from other groups.

  • To verify that the user has been added to the group, you can use the groups command followed by the username:

groups username
  • This command will display the groups that the user is a member of, including the new group.

Repeat the process for each user you want to add to the new group. Users can belong to multiple groups, so you can add them to different groups as needed.

Once you’ve created the new group and added users to it, they will have the group’s permissions and access to any resources or files associated with that group. Make sure to configure file and directory permissions accordingly to control access for the group members.

To List Users in a Group:

Use the getent command along with the group database to list the users in a specific group. Replace “groupname” with the name of the group you want to check:

getent group groupname

The output will display the group information, including the list of users who are members of that group.

To List Groups a User Is In:

You can use the groups command followed by the username to list the groups a specific user is a member of. Replace “username” with the username of the user you want to check:

groups username

The command will display a list of group names separated by spaces.

By using these commands, you can easily check the group membership of both users and groups on your Raspberry Pi.

User Permissions

Why Change Other Users Permissions?

It’s essential to change another user’s permissions carefully and within the constraints of your system’s security policies. Changing permissions should align with the principles of least privilege, ensuring that users have the minimum access necessary to perform their tasks while preserving system security. Always communicate and coordinate with other users and administrators when changing permissions to maintain a transparent and organized approach to access control.

Editing other users’ permissions on a Raspberry Pi or any other Linux-based system typically involves modifying file and directory permissions, either by changing ownership or using the chmod command. Here are the steps to edit other users’ permissions:

Change Ownership:
  • To edit permissions on a file or directory owned by another user, you need superuser privileges. You can become the superuser by using the sudo command:

sudo su

Once you have superuser privileges, use the chown command to change the owner of a file or directory. Replace “newuser” with the username you want to transfer ownership to and “filename” with the name of the file or directory:

chown newuser filename
Change Permissions:
  • To modify file or directory permissions, use the chmod command. This command allows you to change the read (r), write (w), and execute (x) permissions for the owner, group, and others.

    For example, to give read and write permissions to the owner and group, and read-only permission to others:

chmod ug+rw filename
  • Here, “ug” stands for the owner and group, “+rw” adds read and write permissions, and “filename” is the name of the file or directory.

  • To remove specific permissions, you can use the - symbol. For example, to remove write permission for the owner:

chmod u-w filename
  • This would remove write permission for the owner.

  • To change permissions for all files in a directory and its subdirectories, you can use the -R option:

chmod -R ug+rw directory

Please note that editing other users’ permissions should be done carefully and with appropriate permissions, as it can affect the security and functionality of the system. Only superusers or users with appropriate permissions should modify the permissions and ownership of files and directories owned by others.

How to Disable Automatic Login for all Users

Why Disable Automatic Login?

It’s good practice to keep automatic login disabled, especially if your Raspberry Pi is connected to a network or the internet, as it enhances security.

To disable automatic login for the ‘pi’ user or any other user on a Raspberry Pi running Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian), you can follow these steps:

Access the Raspberry Pi Configuration Tool:

Open a terminal on your Raspberry Pi or connect remotely via SSH, and enter the following command to access the Raspberry Pi Configuration Tool:

sudo raspi-config
  • Navigate to Boot Options:

    • Use the arrow keys to navigate the menu.
    • Select “System Options” and press Enter.
    • Choose “Boot / Auto Login” and press Enter.
  • Select the Option for Console Text Login:

    You’ll see three options:

    • Console Text login – text console, requiring username and password: This option will disable automatic login and require you to enter a username and password each time you boot your Raspberry Pi.

    • Console Autologin – text console, automatically logged in as ‘pi’ user: This is the default option, which you’ll want to change to disable automatic login.

    • Desktop Autologin – automatically logged in as ‘pi’ user: This is for enabling automatic login into the graphical desktop environment, which you’ll want to avoid if you’re disabling automatic login.

    Highlight “Console Text login” using the arrow keys and press Enter.

  • Reboot Your Raspberry Pi:

    After selecting “Console Text login,” press Tab to select “Finish” and then press Enter. The system will ask if you want to reboot now. Confirm by selecting “Yes,” and your Raspberry Pi will restart.

After completing these steps, automatic login for the ‘pi’ user or any other user will be disabled, and you will be prompted to enter a username and password at each boot.


In this comprehensive guide to Raspberry Pi user and system management, we’ve explored a multitude of ways to personalize and fine-tune your Raspberry Pi experience. From changing the default user to altering the home directory, adjusting user permissions, disabling automatic login, and creating and editing user groups, you’ve acquired a diverse skill set that empowers you to tailor your Raspberry Pi to your precise needs.

In future guides, we’ll explore more ways to tailor your Raspberry Pi to your preferences and needs.

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You can explore more of our Raspberry Pi guides here: Raspberry Pi for Beginners

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Luke Barber

Hello, fellow tech enthusiasts! I'm Luke, a passionate learner and explorer in the vast realms of technology. Welcome to my digital space where I share the insights and adventures gained from my journey into the fascinating worlds of Arduino, Python, Linux, Ethical Hacking, and beyond. Armed with qualifications including CompTIA A+, Sec+, Cisco CCNA, Unix/Linux and Bash Shell Scripting, JavaScript Application Programming, Python Programming and Ethical Hacking, I thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of coding, computers, and networks. As a tech enthusiast, I'm on a mission to simplify the complexities of technology through my blogs, offering a glimpse into the marvels of Arduino, Python, Linux, and Ethical Hacking techniques. Whether you're a fellow coder or a curious mind, I invite you to join me on this journey of continuous learning and discovery.

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