Preparing for a User Account

This tutorial will lead us through adding a user account to an EC2 instance.  However, before you begin, you need to have built an EC2 instance.  Otherwise, you will not be able to continue with this article.  Also, you will need to have the instance running and be able to connect with the default ec2-user account.  If you require a reminder of how to do this you can follow the steps in these sections before you begin:

The First Step

When you create an EC2 instance, it initially is setup with the ec2-user.  Since the EC2-user is a type of admin user, you should not use it as the primary account.  Therefore, you need to create a work account for yourself and others that need access to the server.  This is not a very complicated process so let’s get to it:

Step 1: Begin by logging into your server on your EC2 instance.

Step 2: Now, from the command line, type in and execute these commands in order (note: replace [user name] including [] with the username you wish to add):

sudo adduser [user name]
sudo su 
cd /home/[user name]
mkdir .ssh
cp ../ec2-user/.ssh/authorized_keys .ssh
chmod 700 .ssh
chown -R [user name].[user name] /home/[user_name]

Step 3: Add yourself to sudoers file (if you are still running as root omit the “sudo”):

visudo –f /etc/sudoers

Step 4: Next, find the line:

root ALL=(ALL) ALL

Step 5: Add a line below it the same information exactly except with your username.  For example, I add the line:


Step 6: At this time your ready to save the file (Esc key and type “:w“) and quit (Esc key and type “:q“)

Step 7: Add a password for your account with the command:

sudo passwd [accountname]

Step 8: To exit out of root user and return back to ec2_user type:


Step 9: Go to the /home folder (cd /home) and type ls -l.  Each folder should be owned by the username:

drwx------ 3 ec2-user ec2-user 4096 Jun 24 15:33 ec2-user
drwx------ 4 rob      rob      4096 Aug  4 13:10 rob
drwx------ 3 tempuser tempuser 4096 Aug 28 20:17 tempuser

Step 10 : Finally, type exit and change your login to use your name instead of ec2-user


Next Steps

As a result of following the above steps, you have now created a new user login on your EC2 instance.  At this time you should be able to log in using your new user account.  Once you log in, verify the active user by typing the command “whoami” on the command line.  Consequently, you should see your new username appear in the list.

Click here to return to the class



Further Reading

You can always check out some more of our articles to learn more.  However, if you want to find out more just about AWS look at this: AWS System Administration: Best Practices for Sysadmins in the Amazon Cloud.

Want to learn more?  Have a look at How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know


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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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