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How to Change Username on Ubuntu

Change Username on Ubuntu

Choosing the right username on Ubuntu is crucial for maintaining security and professionalism. Whether you’re setting up a new Ubuntu system or looking to change your existing username, it’s essential to select a name that is both secure and appropriate for your environment. Fortunately, changing your username on Ubuntu is a straightforward process that can be accomplished through either the command line or the graphical user interface (GUI). In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through both methods step-by-step, providing you with the knowledge and confidence to change your username on Ubuntu with ease.

Why Change Your Username on Ubuntu?

There are several compelling reasons to change your username on Ubuntu. First and foremost, weak or default usernames can pose a significant security risk. Attackers often target accounts with easily guessable names, making it crucial to choose a strong and unique username. Additionally, having an appropriate username is particularly important in professional settings. A username that is offensive, unprofessional, or reveals too much personal information can reflect poorly on you and your organization.

Furthermore, renaming user accounts can help keep your Ubuntu system organized, especially if you manage multiple users. Clear and descriptive usernames make it easier to identify and manage user accounts, streamlining system administration tasks. Lastly, privacy concerns may prompt you to change your username. If you prefer to keep your real identity separate from your online presence, updating your username can help maintain your anonymity.

Understanding Usernames in Ubuntu

In Ubuntu and Linux systems in general, the username serves as the key identifier for a user account. It is tied to important account components like:

  • Home directory – By default, each user receives a home directory for storing personal files and customizations. This home directory is located at /home/username where username is the account name.
  • Permissions – File and system permissions are assigned based on username. The account’s default group also uses the username. This ties access controls to the account name.
  • Authentication – Services like SSH key-based authentication use the username as an identifier, so the username is tied to access management.

Due to the deep integration of the username with the account system, changing it requires updating several components to maintain continuity. We need to take precautions before changing the username to avoid disrupting services relying on that name.

Precautions Before Changing Username

Before attempting to change your username, it is critical to take some precautions to avoid potential issues:

  • Do not be logged in – You cannot change the username of an account you are currently logged into. You must either log out or use another account with sudo privileges.
  • Close any open processes – If any processes are running under the account you wish to rename, this may cause errors. Shut down as many applications as possible.
  • Backup data – Although we aim to change the username without data loss, it is always wise to backup important data in case unexpected issues occur.
  • Create a temporary admin user – Having a separate admin user enables you to change the username of your main account while logged in as another user.

These precautions will help mitigate the most common errors that may arise during the username change process.

Changing Username via Command Line

Creating a Temporary User

Before changing your username, you need to create a temporary user with root privileges. This user will allow you to make changes to your original user account without being logged in as that user. Here are the steps to create a temporary user:

sudo adduser tempadmin
sudo usermod -aG sudo tempadmin

Changing the Username

To change the username, the usermod command is used with the -l option followed by the new username and the old username. For example:

sudo usermod -l newUsername oldUsername

Changing the Group Name

It is also important to change the user’s group name to match the new username using the groupmod command. For example:

sudo groupmod -n newUsername oldUsername

Renaming the Home Directory

Renaming the home directory is essential to reflect the new username. This can be done using the mv command. For example:

sudo mv /home/oldUsername /home/newUsername

After renaming, update the user’s home directory path using the usermod command with the -d option.

Changing Username via Graphical Interface

For those that prefer a graphical method, changing the username is also possible through Ubuntu’s user management interface:

  1. Log out and log back in as a different admin user as explained earlier.
  2. Go to Settings > Users. Enter your account password to make changes.
  3. Click the current username and edit it to the new name.
  4. Click “Apply” to change the username.

While simple, this method does not handle the permissions changes automatically. You will need to manually rename the group name and home directory path afterward from the command line.

Potential Issues and Solutions

Changing a username can lead to issues such as configuration files still referencing the old username or permission problems. To resolve these, manually update configuration files and ensure proper ownership and permissions are set for the new home directory.


Changing your username in Ubuntu is perfectly possible despite being an involved process requiring multiple steps. Using the usermod command along with updating the group name and home directory path enables transitioning your username without losing data or customizations.

Be sure to take key precautions like logging out of your account before attempting the change and creating a temporary admin user to perform the modifications safely. With the proper backup, preparation, and commands executed, you can change your Ubuntu username seamlessly.

Whether you made a mistake when first creating your account or want to standardize names across systems, this guide covers the entire process from start to finish. Follow our detailed steps, troubleshooting tips, and best practices for renaming your account successfully.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to idroot.us, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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