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This chapter is from the book

Logging In to FreeBSD

When the system startup process has finished, you will be left with a prompt that looks something like this:

FreeBSD/i386 (simba) (ttyp0)


This prompt is asking you to enter the login name you gave to the user you created when you installed FreeBSD. (simba) is the hostname of this system. Your hostname if you just installed FreeBSD and didn't specify a different one during the install will probably be (amnesiac). (Note that the parenthesis are not part of the hostname.) You will learn how to change the hostname in a later Hour.

If you are coming from a Windows background, the first thing you might be wondering is why you have to login. FreeBSD is a multiuser system, meaning that many different users can use the system at the same time. FreeBSD was also designed to work in a networked environment. Because of this, security is a concern, so FreeBSD requires users to login with a username and password. This prevents unauthorized people from accessing files and such that they should not have access too. But even if you have a home system in which security is not an issue, there is still another good reason for users with separate logins. Each user can customize the system to his liking without affecting how the system works for someone else, which means no fighting over which wallpaper should go on the background, which sounds should be used for various events, and so on. Each user can set up the system the way they like it and not have to worry about changing the settings of other users.


If you are the only person who uses the system, you might be tempted to just always work as the root user. This is not a good idea though because the root user has no restrictions and can do anything to any part of the system, including deleting important system files. Normal user accounts have built-in safety nets that prevent you from damaging the system (but not from damaging your own files). Because of this, it is always better to do most of your work with a normal user account and only login as root when you need to do something that can't be done as a normal user.

After you have entered your username at the login prompt and pressed Enter, FreeBSD will prompt you for a password. Enter the password you assigned to the user during the installation and press Enter again. Note that you will not see the password on the screen. Don't worry. FreeBSD is reading your password as you type it. It just isn't displaying anything on the screen in order to prevent someone who might be looking over your shoulder from getting your password. Assuming that you enter both the username and password correctly, you will see something similar to the following:

Last login: Fri Sept 20 02:04:15 on ttyp0
Copyright 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
  The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

FreeBSD 5.0-RELEASE (GENERIC) #0: Fri Sept 20 03:15:25 CST 2002


If you made a mistake entering either the username or password, you will see the following instead:

Login incorrect

Simply reenter the username and password and try again. When you have successfully logged in, you will see the bash$ prompt as described previously.


Pay attention to the date listed for the "Last login" information after you have logged in. It can be a potential warning that someone else has used your account if you know that you didn't login at the time listed here. If this happens, change your password immediately and notify your system administrator (unless you are the system administrator). If you are the system administrator, see Hour 14 on network security for further information.


If you mistype your username or password a few times in a row, it will appear that the system has stopped responding because it will not give you the login prompt back. This is actually a security feature designed to help foil computer software that attempts to crack passwords by random guessing. Wait a few seconds, and the prompt will return. The delay will get progressively longer the more times you mistype your password.

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