[arch-general] User/group name restrictions

Eli Schwartz eschwartz at archlinux.org
Thu May 23 23:08:22 UTC 2019

On 5/23/19 3:15 PM, Andy Pieters wrote:
> Hi
> This is something I gotten used to live with for a very long time now,
> patching the shadow package every time it is updated to allow capitals in
> the user/group names.
> I've often meant to write in to ask why and this is that glorious day.
> Why is it that uppercase letters are not allowed in user/group names in
> Arch Linux please.
> It's not that I'm anal about everything, but I was always brought up with
> the rule that a person's name should be written with their appropriate
> capital letters and not to do so is a deliberate mark of disrespect at the
> owner's address.
> So imagine my chagrin if I'd have to stare at my terminal all day long with
> such deliberate cheekiness staring in my face 😜

Is this a trick question? Perhaps you wish your terminal prompt to
contain the User name (GECOS field) of /etc/passwd, rather than the
login name. I presume so, since you state that you are anal about proper
names, and a login name will never, ever be a proper name until it also
contains the space in between the first and last name -- and for many
parts of the world, it also has to contain completely arbitrary bytes
that aren't part of the latin alphabet. Therefore it logically follows
that your computer's symbolic codename will continue to be unsuitable as
a *display* name even if you were able to use capitals in it.

Not sure why you think it is Arch Linux's job to decide whether Unix
login names should contain whichever type of character. However you may
rest assured that this has been the case as upstream intended since
(This is a CVS import which was done in 2007, the other date can be seen
in the changelog.)

If you're actually asking why Debian provides a downstream patch that
permits nonstandard login names, I don't know or care.


Given that your initial post does specifically state that you are
patching the package in order to allow it, I will assume that nothing I
just said about upstream's intentions is remotely surprising to you --
you would have to know that it's enforced in libmisc/chkname.c in order
to patch it, soooo... may I ask why you posted to the list asking why it
is not allowed "in Arch Linux", rather than "in the upstream,
distribution-agnostic shadow-maint software"?

It seems almost disingenuous to put it that way, and you are the person
who would know better than most arch-general readers that it's not
actually something Arch Linux is doing. Why be misleading? It will only
result in people having no idea what you are talking about, assuming
your public statements about this being some form of Arch Linux
configuration are accurate, and giving you uninformed answers as a
result. This is hardly conducive to your desired goal to find out why.

Eli Schwartz
Bug Wrangler and Trusted User

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