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3 ways to Remove a User from a Group in Linux

Managing user permissions and access rights is a fundamental aspect of system administration in Linux.

In a multi-user environment, users are often assigned to groups to streamline the management of permissions.

Groups in Linux are a powerful way to manage and control access to files, directories, and other system resources.

However, there are instances where a system administrator may need to modify these group memberships.

This guide provides an in-depth look at how to remove a user from a group in a Linux environment.

Using gpasswd to remove a user from a group in Linux

Before you remove the user from any groups, check their current group memberships. Use the groups command followed by the username:

groups username

Replace username with the actual username. This command will list all the groups the user is currently a part of.

The gpasswd command is commonly used to administer group memberships:

sudo gpasswd -d username groupname

Replace username with the user’s name and groupname with the group’s name.

After you have removed the user from the groups, check their group memberships again:

groups username

This step is crucial to confirm that the user is no longer a part of the groups you intended to remove them from.


gpasswd is a command in Linux used for administering the /etc/group and /etc/gshadow files. It allows you to manage group memberships and passwords.

Using deluser (Debian/Ubuntu) to remove a user from a group in Linux

On Debian-based systems, such as Ubuntu, you can use deluser:

sudo deluser username groupname

Replace username and groupname accordingly.

For example, to remove the user john from the group developers, you would use:

sudo deluser john developers

Manually Editing /etc/group to remove a user from a group in Linux

You can also manually edit the /etc/group file:

  1. Open /etc/group in a text editor, e.g., sudo vi /etc/group.
  2. Find the line with the group and remove the username from the list.
  3. Save and close the file.

Example Scenario

Remove the user john from the group developers.

Steps to Follow

  1. Open the /etc/group File in a Text Editor:Use the following command to open the file:
    sudo vi /etc/group
  2. Locate the Group and Edit the Line:
    • In the vi editor, search for developers.
    • Find the line that looks like developers:x:1002:alice,john,bob.
    • Remove john from the list, resulting in developers:x:1002:alice,bob.
  3. Save and Exit the File:For vi: Press Esc, type :wq, and press Enter.For nano: Press Ctrl+O then Ctrl+X.

Important Considerations

  • Users may need to log out and log back in for the changes to take effect.
  • Be cautious when editing /etc/group manually to avoid syntax errors.
  • Ensure a backup of /etc/group before making changes.
  • The availability of commands may vary based on your Linux distribution.