33.2. pwd — The password database

Platforms: Unix

This module provides access to the Unix user account and password database. It is available on all Unix versions.

Password database entries are reported as a tuple-like object, whose attributes correspond to the members of the passwd structure (Attribute field below, see <pwd.h>):

Index Attribute Meaning
0 pw_name Login name
1 pw_passwd Optional encrypted password
2 pw_uid Numerical user ID
3 pw_gid Numerical group ID
4 pw_gecos User name or comment field
5 pw_dir User home directory
6 pw_shell User command interpreter

The uid and gid items are integers, all others are strings. KeyError is raised if the entry asked for cannot be found.


In traditional Unix the field pw_passwd usually contains a password encrypted with a DES derived algorithm (see module crypt). However most modern unices use a so-called shadow password system. On those unices the pw_passwd field only contains an asterisk ('*') or the letter 'x' where the encrypted password is stored in a file /etc/shadow which is not world readable. Whether the pw_passwd field contains anything useful is system-dependent. If available, the spwd module should be used where access to the encrypted password is required.

It defines the following items:

Return the password database entry for the given numeric user ID.
Return the password database entry for the given user name.
Return a list of all available password database entries, in arbitrary order.

See also

Module grp
An interface to the group database, similar to this.
Module spwd
An interface to the shadow password database, similar to this.

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