4.3. Adding the LFS User

When logged in as user root, making a single mistake can damage or destroy a system. Therefore, the packages in the next two chapters are built as an unprivileged user. You could use your own user name, but to make it easier to set up a clean working environment, create a new user called lfs as a member of a new group (also named lfs) and use this user during the installation process. As root, issue the following commands to add the new user:

groupadd lfs
useradd -s /bin/bash -g lfs -m -k /dev/null lfs

The meaning of the command line options:

-s /bin/bash

This makes bash the default shell for user lfs.

-g lfs

This option adds user lfs to group lfs.


This creates a home directory for lfs.

-k /dev/null

This parameter prevents possible copying of files from a skeleton directory (default is /etc/skel) by changing the input location to the special null device.


This is the actual name for the created user.

To log in as lfs (as opposed to switching to user lfs when logged in as root, which does not require the lfs user to have a password), give lfs a password:

passwd lfs

Grant lfs full access to all directories under $LFS by making lfs the directory owner:

chown -v lfs $LFS/{usr{,/*},lib,var,etc,bin,sbin,tools}
case $(uname -m) in
  x86_64) chown -v lfs $LFS/lib64 ;;

If a separate working directory was created as suggested, give user lfs ownership of this directory:

chown -v lfs $LFS/sources


In some host systems, the following command does not complete properly and suspends the login to the lfs user to the background. If the prompt "lfs:~$" does not appear immediately, entering the fg command will fix the issue.

Next, login as user lfs. This can be done via a virtual console, through a display manager, or with the following substitute/switch user command:

su - lfs

The - instructs su to start a login shell as opposed to a non-login shell. The difference between these two types of shells can be found in detail in bash(1) and info bash.