The new program is the most user visibile component of the UserAdm system. It is also the only component of the system that has extensive configuration options.

The sample configuration file distributed with the UserAdm package is extensively commented, and is its own best source of documentation. What follows here are some additional notes.

Degree and course entries
The degree and course entries in the configuration file determine where a user’s home directory will be located and what the group ID (GID) of that home directory will be.

When a user runs the new program, they will match one or more degree or course entries based on their registration status. This value will then be passed to the adduser program, which looks up the corresponding entry in the passwd file. The template entries should have the following format:


The UID for the template entry should be equal to the GID. This GID will determine the GID of home directories created for this course or degree specification.

The home directory for this entry is used to determine the home directory for the user when their account is created. There must be an entry in the passwd file for each degree and course line in the config file. new will exit with an error message if it cannot find corresponding entries in the passwd file.

It is possible for a user to match more than one degree entry and/or more than one course entry. In this case, the user will be asked to choose which entry to use during the new process.

For example:

Using the default configuration file, if an undergraduate student were to log into your system and run new, they would at some point be presented with the following choice:

You have been found to fit into more than one course/status category.

Please choose the course or status from the following list that fits your current situation/needs for getting an account on this machine.


Please type the status or course name (, e.g., ugrad):

Note: The special-status entry in the configuration file can be used to provide a course or degree even when a user’s registration information does not match any of the existing entries in your config file. The comments in the sample configuration file describe how to set up the special-status program.

Guest List and Preapprove
If the autoapprove line in the configuration file is commented out, most users will have to have their accounts approve manually. However, both users who have their usernames or BUIDs listed in the guests file, and those who have been pre-approved using the pre-approve program, will have their accounts autoapproved in any case.

The pre-approve program requires special privileges, and is meant to be used to create accounts for users who are not students, faculty, or staff of Boston University. In general, if you want to have accounts for specific users auto-approved, you should use the guests facility.

The adduser program
The adduser program distributed with UserAdm is a perl script, and can be modified to meet the specific needs of your computing environment. For instance, you could modify it so that users in different degree or course categories received different sets of initial dotfiles.

As distributed, the adduser script will look for your default dotfiles in /usr/local/IT/skel. You can change this location by editing the following line in the adduser script:

$skeldir = “/usr/local/IT/skel”;

Before looking in skeldir, the adduser script will copy ~new/Cshrc and ~new/Login into the user’s home directory as .cshrc and .login.