How to add a user to your Linux desktop

It's easy to manage users from a graphical interface, whether during installation or on the desktop.
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Adding a user is one of the first things you do on a new computer system. And you often have to manage users throughout the computer's lifespan.

My article on the useradd command provides a deeper understanding of user management on Linux. Useradd is a command-line tool, but you can also manage users graphically on Linux. That's the topic of this article.

Add a user during Linux installation

Most Linux distributions provide a step for creating a user during installation. For example, the Fedora 30 installer, Anaconda, creates the standard root user and one other local user account. When you reach the Configuration screen during installation, click User Creation under User Settings.

Fedora Anaconda Installer - Add a user

On the Create User screen, enter the user's details: Full name, User name, and Password. You can also choose whether to make the user an administrator.

Create a user during installation

The Advanced button opens the Advanced User Configuration screen. Here, you can specify the path to the home directory and the user and group IDs if you need something besides the default. You can also type a list of secondary groups that the user will be placed into.

Advanced user configuration

Add a user on the Linux desktop


Many Linux distributions use the GNOME desktop. The following screenshots are from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, but the process is similar in other distros like Fedora, Ubuntu, or Debian.

Start by opening Settings. Then go to Details, select Users, click Unlock, and enter your password (unless you are already logged in as root). This will replace the Unlock button with an Add User button.

GNOME user settings

Now, you can add a user by clicking Add User, then selecting the account Type and the details Name and Password).

In the screenshot below, a user name has been entered, and settings are left as default. I did not have to enter the Username; it was created automatically as I typed in the Full Name field. You can still modify it though if the autocompletion is not to your liking.

GNOME settings - add user

This creates a standard account for a user named Sonny. Sonny will need to provide a password the first time he or she logs in.

Next, the users will be displayed. Each user can be selected and customized or removed from this screen. For instance, you might want to choose an avatar image or set the default language.

GNOME new user


KDE is another popular Linux desktop environment. Below is a screenshot of KDE Plasma on Fedora 30. You can see that adding a user in KDE is quite similar to doing it in GNOME.

KDE settings - add user


Other desktop environments and window managers in addition to GNOME and KDE include graphical user management tools. Adding a user graphically in Linux is quick and simple, whether you do it at installation or afterward.

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Alan Formy-Duval Correspondent
Alan has 20 years of IT experience, mostly in the Government and Financial sectors. He started as a Value Added Reseller before moving into Systems Engineering. Alan's background is in high-availability clustered apps. He wrote the 'Users and Groups' and 'Apache and the Web Stack' chapters in the Oracle Press/McGraw Hill 'Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration' book.


This is a great article. I love pointing to articles like these when people ask me if everything in Linux has to be done in a terminal.

Good Post

How about an article on how to add users the easy way (from the command line) and have your Desktop Environment correctly pick them up.

Your desktop environment should pick up users added through either the GUI or the shell. Both methods are making the same system calls, so there's really no difference. If you're having problems with that, then you may have something misconfigured (maybe your desktops don't know where to look for $HOME?), or maybe you're using the wrong command, or maybe the system you're on isn't using UNIX local users (on larger systems, users are defined in LDAP or similar).

In reply to by LittleMonkeyMojo

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