Gecos field

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The gecos field, or GECOS field is an entry in the /etc/passwd file on Unix, and similar operating systems.

It is typically used to record general information about the account or its user(s) such as their real name and phone number.

GECOS means General Electric Comprehensive Operating System, which has been renamed to GCOS when GE’s large systems division was sold to Honeywell.

Format[edit]

The typical format for the GECOS field is a comma-delimited list[1][2] with this order:

  1. User's full name (or application name, if the account is for a program)
  2. Building and room number or contact person
  3. Office telephone number
  4. Any other contact information (pager number, fax, etc.)

In most of the UNIX systems this information can be changed by normal users using the chfn command from the shell.

History[edit]

Some early Unix systems at Bell Labs used GECOS machines for print spooling and various other services,[3] so this field was added to carry information on a user's GECOS identity.

See also[edit]

References[edit]