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posix_getpwnamReturn info about a user by username


array posix_getpwnam ( string $username )

Returns an array of information about the given user.



An alphanumeric username.

Return Values

On success an array with the following elements is returned, else FALSE is returned:

The user information array
Element Description
name The name element contains the username of the user. This is a short, usually less than 16 character "handle" of the user, not the real, full name. This should be the same as the username parameter used when calling the function, and hence redundant.
passwd The passwd element contains the user's password in an encrypted format. Often, for example on a system employing "shadow" passwords, an asterisk is returned instead.
uid User ID of the user in numeric form.
gid The group ID of the user. Use the function posix_getgrgid() to resolve the group name and a list of its members.
gecos GECOS is an obsolete term that refers to the finger information field on a Honeywell batch processing system. The field, however, lives on, and its contents have been formalized by POSIX. The field contains a comma separated list containing the user's full name, office phone, office number, and home phone number. On most systems, only the user's full name is available.
dir This element contains the absolute path to the home directory of the user.
shell The shell element contains the absolute path to the executable of the user's default shell.


Example #1 Example use of posix_getpwnam()




The above example will output something similar to:

    [name]    => tom
    [passwd]  => x
    [uid]     => 10000
    [gid]     => 42
    [gecos]   => "tom,,,"
    [dir]     => "/home/tom"
    [shell]   => "/bin/bash"

See Also

  • posix_getpwuid() - Return info about a user by user id
  • POSIX man page GETPWNAM(3)

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User Contributed Notes 9 notes

darryl at pointclark dot net
15 years ago
If you need to validate a *real* unix password on a system using shadowed passwords, the posix_getpwnam() function in PHP won't work (as mentioned, 'x', or '*', will be in the password field).

I have a need to verify a user/pass within PHP (using SSL!).  I don't know if this is the best way, but it's what I'm doing at the moment (works well!).

First, you need some help from the OS.  I wrote a tiny C utility that does the shadow look-up for me... It requires root access to read /etc/shadow.  So after you compile (gcc -O2 -s -o spasswd -lcrypt spasswd.c), you need to either use sudo to run it, or

# chown root spasswd && chmod u+s spasswd

To code that I'm using to authenticate a user/pass from PHP looks like:

function Authenticate($realm)
global $PHP_AUTH_USER;
global $PHP_AUTH_PW;

  header("WWW-Authenticate: Basic realm=\"$realm\"");
  header("HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized");

  return false;
  if(($fh = popen("/usr/sbin/spasswd", "w")))
   fputs($fh, "$PHP_AUTH_USER $PHP_AUTH_PW");
   $r = pclose($fh);

    return true;

header("WWW-Authenticate: Basic realm=\"$realm\"");
header("HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized");

return false;

The C source for spasswd.c:

#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <crypt.h>
#include <shadow.h>

static char salt[12], user[128], pass[128];

void die(void)
memset(salt, '\0', 12);
memset(user, '\0', 128);
memset(pass, '\0', 128);

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
struct spwd *passwd;

atexit(die); die();

if(fscanf(stdin, "%127s %127s", user, pass) != 2)
  return 1;

if(!(passwd = getspnam(user)))
  return 1;

strncpy(salt, passwd->sp_pwdp, 11);
strncpy(pass, crypt(pass, salt), 127);

if(!strncmp(pass, passwd->sp_pwdp, 127))
  return 0;

return 1;

Hope this helps someone...
bau at kg-fds dot de
11 years ago
Oh I forgot the following:

to change a Users password via PHP,
you can use the following (under Linux with installed Samba):

exec('echo -e "'.$oldpassword.'\n'.$newpassword.'\n'.$newpassword.'
"|smbpasswd -U'.$user.' -s')

The exec-command returns ""
if an error occured (then see the error_log of the web-server)
or a message "The password has been changed".

Good luck.
bau at kg-fds dot de
11 years ago
Hello, I've tried another, more easier way to check passwords than checking it to a pop3-server. If you are running a samba-server or a Windows PDC, so you can try to connect with the username/password you want to check to the netlogon of this server:

if (exec('echo "exit"|smbclient //server/netlogon -U'.$user.' '.$pass)=="") { ... }

If the username/password doesn't match, then the exec-command under LINUX returns an error.

Good luck
bau at kg-fds dot de
11 years ago
If you are running a pop3-daemon, so you can do authentification on pop3 by using fsockopen :-) and checking whether it returns +OK or -ERR
corychristison at lavacube dot net
12 years ago
For those of you who are writing daemons with PHP and are one for security. This function will not return any info if you have called PHP's chroot() function.

Took me a few minutes why it wouldn't find the user it was searching for.
marcus at nospamsynchromedia dot co dot uk
14 years ago
Given a non-existent username, this function returns a boolean FALSE.
perreal at lyon dot cemagref dot fr
14 years ago
To check passwords on a Unix-box, look at the mod_auth_external module for Apache, it uses external programs to do the real job. The server won't ever read the encrypted password.

One of them, pwauth, can be configured to use PAM or whatever is used on your system. Users that can run this program are configured at compile time. And this program can be called from PHP with exec(...).
vision_1967 at hotmail dot com
15 years ago
I needed to get access to the user information to do login/validation via an SSL connection and encountered the same problem with receiving '*' in the password field.  After checking the documentation on posix_getpwnam, I saw a previous solution involving coding a C program.  This was a bit bulky for me so I came up with my own solution.

Variations on this theme can probably be done to make the solution more programmer/reader friendly, but the way I did it accomplished the task that I needed to do.

IF the information you need to get from posix_getpwnam comes from a host participating in an NIS network, you can accomplish the same thing with the following command:

$autharray = split(":",`ypmatch $USER passwd`);

(pretty long explanation for such a short solution huh?)

You'll have to get at the fields by their index number ($autharray[0], $autharray[1], ...) using this method.

To create an associative array that is plug-in compatible with the posix_getpwnam function,  you'll probably need to use the 'list' specifier to do the assignments.

I hope this helps someone.

sezery at damla dot net
15 years ago
User and group functions do not work on recent Redhat systems since these functions are based on /etc/group file but new redhat does not put group members' list into this file. Instead you need to examine /etc/passwd file and find members of a group by checking group id.
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