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10. Getty and Login

Getty is the program that enables you to log in through a serial device such as a virtual terminal, a text terminal, or a modem. It displays the login prompt. Once you enter your username, getty hands this over to login which asks for a password, checks it out and gives you a shell.

There are many getty's available. Some distributions, including Red Hat use a very small one called mingetty that only works with virtual terminals.

The login program is part of the util-linux package, which also contains a getty called agetty, which works fine. This package also contains mkswap, fdisk, passwd, kill, setterm, mount, swapon, rdev, renice, more (the program) and more (ie more programs).

10.1 Configuration

The message that comes on the top of your screen with your login prompt comes from /etc/issue. Gettys are usually started in /etc/inittab. Login checks user details in /etc/passwd, and if you have password shadowing, /etc/shadow.

10.2 Exercises

Create a /etc/passwd by hand. Passwords can be set to null, and changed with the program passwd once you log on. See the man page for this file Use man 5 passwd to get the man page for the file rather than the man page for the program.

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