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How to Delete User in Linux | userdel Command

Last Updated : 02 Jan, 2024
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Managing user accounts is an essential aspect of Linux system administration. Whether you need to remove an unused account, revoke access for a departing employee, or clean up your system for security reasons, understanding how to delete a user in Linux is a crucial skill. In this guide, we will explore the userdel command, a powerful tool in Linux for removing user accounts.

How to Delete User in Linux using `userdel` Command

userdel command in Linux system is used to delete a user account and related files. This command basically modifies the system account files, deleting all the entries which refer to the username LOGIN. It is a low-level utility for removing the users. The userdel command is a standard utility in Linux that allows administrators to delete user accounts from the system. It is a part of the user management tools that also include commands like useradd and usermod. The userdel command not only removes the user account but also takes care of associated files, such as the home directory and mail spool.

Syntax of `userdel` Command

The basic syntax of the userdel command is as follows:

userdel [options] username


  • options: Various command options can be used to customize the behavior of user deletion.
  • username: Specifies the name of the user account to be deleted.

Options Available in `userdel` Command




Force removal of the user account, including home directory and mail spool, even if the user is logged in.


Remove the user’s home directory along with the account. Useful for a complete cleanup.


Display a help message and exit, providing information on command syntax and available options.


Apply changes in the specified CHROOT_DIR, useful for user deletion operations within a chroot environment.


Remove SELinux user mapping for the user’s login, applicable in SELinux-enabled systems.


Display a help message with the general syntax and available options for the userdel command.

Pratical Implementaion of How to Delete User in Linux

1. How to Delete User in Linux

To delete a user using the userdel command, open a terminal and type:

sudo userdel username

Replace “username” with the actual username you want to remove. The ‘sudo’ command is used to execute the userdel command with administrative privileges.

2. How to Forcely Delete User in Linux

userdel -f: This option forces the removal of the specified user account. It doesn’t matter that the user is still logged in. It also forces the userdel to remove the user’s home directory and mail spool, even if another user is using the same home directory or even if the mail spool is not owned by the specified user.


sudo userdel -f neuser

3. How to Delete User in Linux with Home Directory and Mail Spool

userdel -r: Whenever we are deleting a user using this option then the files in the user’s home directory will be removed along with the home directory itself and the user’s mail spool. All the files located in other file systems will have to be searched for and deleted manually.


sudo userdel -r newuser2

4. Display Help Message and Exit

userdel -h : This option display help message and exit.


userdel -h

5. Apply Changes in CHROOT_DIR

userdel -R: This option apply changes in the CHROOT_DIR directory and use the configuration files from the CHROOT_DIR directory. Useful for user deletion operations within a chroot environment.


sudo userdel -R newuser2

6. Remove SELinux User Mapping

userdel -Z : This option remove any SELinux(Security-Enhanced Linux) user mapping for the user’s login.


sudo userdel -Z newuser2

7. User Deletion with Help Option

userdel command with help option: The userdel command throws an error if no options, filename or arguments are passed. So, when we use the -h option, it gives the general syntax along with the various options that can be used with the userdel command.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to delete a user account in Linux while they are still logged in?

We can use the `userdel -f` option to forcefully remove a user account, even if the user is currently logged in. This option terminates active processes associated with the user.

2. What happens if I use the `-r` option with userdel?

When you use the `userdel -r` option, it not only deletes the user account but also removes the user’s home directory and mail spool. This ensures a complete cleanup of the user’s files.

3. How to delete user without deleting their home directory?

By default, `userdel` retains the user’s home directory. If you want to keep the home directory intact, omit the `-r` option. This preserves the home directory even after the user account is deleted.

4. How to delete a user in a chroot environment using userdel?

We can use the `userdel -R` option to apply changes in a specified `CHROOT_DIR` directory. This is useful when performing user deletion operations within a chroot environment.

5. What is SELinux, and how does the `-Z` option relate to user deletion?

SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) is a security module in Linux. The userdel -Z option removes any SELinux user mapping for the specified user’s login. This is relevant in SELinux-enabled systems for maintaining security policies.


In this article we discussed how to delet user accounts in Linux which is a crucial task for system administrators. The userdel command is a handy tool for this job, efficiently handling user deletions along with associated files like home directories. With options like -f for forceful removal and -r for a thorough cleanup, it provides flexibility. The practical steps outlined in this guide make user deletion straightforward. The FAQs offer insights into common queries, such as deleting users while they’re logged in or preserving home directories. This guide equips administrators with the knowledge needed to manage user accounts effectively, ensuring system security and resource optimization.

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