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How To safely change username and hostname in Ubuntu?

Ubuntu 8

In this article, we will walk you through the process of safely changing your username and hostname in Ubuntu. This guide is designed for Ubuntu Gnome 14.04.3, but the steps should be similar for other versions as well.

Quick Answer

To safely change your username in Ubuntu, you need to set a root password, reboot the machine, login as root, and use the "usermod" command to change the username. Additionally, you will need to change the user directory and update the user database. To change the hostname, you need to edit the hostname file and the hosts file.

What are Username and Hostname?

The username is the name that identifies a particular user of a computer or network. It is used during the login process and it’s associated with a user account.

The hostname is a label assigned to a device connected to a computer network. It is used to identify the device in various forms of electronic communication such as the World Wide Web, email or Usenet.

Changing the Hostname

Step 1: Open Terminal

Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T. This will bring up the command line interface where you can input commands.

Step 2: Edit the Hostname File

In the terminal, type the following command:

sudo nano /etc/hostname

This command uses sudo to gain administrative privileges, nano to open the nano text editor, and /etc/hostname to specify the file to edit.

In this file, replace the current hostname with the desired one.

Step 3: Save Changes and Exit

Press Ctrl + X to exit, then Y to confirm the changes, and finally Enter to save the changes.

Step 4: Edit the Hosts File

Next, you need to edit the /etc/hosts file. Type the following command:

sudo nano /etc/hosts

In this file, locate the line that contains the old hostname and replace it with the new one.

Step 5: Save Changes and Exit

Again, press Ctrl + X to exit, then Y to confirm the changes, and finally Enter to save the changes.

Changing the Username

Step 1: Open Terminal

Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.

Step 2: Set Root Password

Set a password for the root user by running the following commands:

sudo su
passwd root

The sudo su command switches to the root user, and the passwd root command sets a new password for the root user.

Step 3: Reboot and Switch to Virtual Terminal

Reboot the machine and when you see the login screen, switch to a virtual terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F4.

Step 4: Login as Root

Login with the username root and the password you set previously.

Step 5: Change the Username

Now, you can safely change the username using the following command:

usermod -l newUsername oldUsername

The usermod command modifies the system account files to reflect the changes that are specified on the command line. The -l option is used to specify the new login name (newUsername).

Step 6: Change the User Directory

Change the name of the user directory and all daughter directories to match the new username and update the filepaths:

mv /home/oldUsername* /home/newUsername*

The mv command moves the files or directories from one place to another. The /home/oldUsername* specifies the source directory and the /home/newUsername* specifies the destination directory.

Step 7: Update the User Database

Finally, update the user database by running the command:

usermod -d /home/newUsername* -m newUsername

The usermod command modifies the system account files to reflect the changes that are specified on the command line. The -d option is used to specify the new home directory (/home/newUsername*), and the -m option is used to move the contents of the current home directory to the new home directory.

By following these steps, you should be able to safely change both your username and hostname on your Ubuntu system. Remember to replace newUsername and oldUsername with your actual old and new usernames.

Can I change my username and hostname without any risks?

Yes, you can safely change your username and hostname by following the steps outlined in this guide. However, it is always recommended to backup your important files and data before making any system changes.

Will changing my username and hostname affect my installed applications and settings?

Changing your username and hostname should not affect your installed applications and settings. However, it is possible that some applications may store configuration files or data specific to your old username or hostname. In such cases, you may need to update those configurations manually.

Can I change my username to anything I want?

While you have the flexibility to choose a new username, there are certain naming conventions and restrictions you should keep in mind. Usernames should not contain spaces or special characters, and it is recommended to use lowercase letters. Additionally, it is advisable to choose a username that is descriptive and easy to remember.

Do I need to restart my computer after changing the hostname?

No, you do not need to restart your computer after changing the hostname. The changes will take effect immediately. However, some applications or services may require a restart to recognize the new hostname.

What happens to my old username and user directory after changing my username?

After changing your username, a new user directory will be created with the new username. Your old username and user directory will still exist but will no longer be associated with your user account. It is recommended to delete or archive the old user directory to free up disk space.

Can I change my username and hostname without administrative privileges?

No, changing your username and hostname requires administrative privileges. You need to use the sudo command to gain administrative access and make the necessary changes to the system files.

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