useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.

By | 2012/10/05

Can’t add a user in Linux because of this: ‘useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.’ ? Here’s what to check!


$ sudo useradd -m -g users -s /bin/bash jsmith
useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.

If you receive this message even when running with sudo, there are small lock files that are causing this.

Remove any files called

/etc/passwd.lock
/etc/group.lock
/etc/gshadow.lock
/etc/shadow.lock

Careful to not remove the actual passwd or shadow files(!).

This error can also occur if the filesystem was mounted read-only. Check to be sure the file system is mounted read write.