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4 Ways to Find User Home Directory in Linux

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In Linux, the home directory is where user data is stored. This can be useful for finding files that belong to a particular user, or for troubleshooting purposes.

To find a user’s home directory in Linux, you can use the environment variable $HOME, the ~ symbol, pwd command, or from /etc/passwd file.

In this blog post, we will discuss each of these methods in detail. Let’s get started!

Understanding user’s home directory in Linux?

The home directory is the directory where a user’s personal files are stored. This includes things like the user’s documents, music, and pictures. On most systems, the home directory is located at /home/username.

There are several reasons why you might need to know a user’s home directory in Linux. For example, you may need to troubleshoot an issue with a particular user’s account, or you may want to find a file that belongs to a specific user.

Check this post to get more info about how to create a user with a home directory in Linux.

Procedure to Find user home directory in Linux

  1. Open the terminal.
  2. Type echo ~username and press Enter.
  3. Replace username with the actual username of the user you want to find the home directory for. The output will show the path to the user’s home directory.
  4. If you want to see more information about the user, type cat /etc/passwd and press Enter. This will show you a list of all the users on the system, as well as their home directories and shell types.

 

Find user home directory with ~ symbol in Linux

The easiest way to find a user’s home directory in Linux is by using the ~ symbol. This is a shortcut that stands for the home directory of the current user.  Type in the following command: ls ~. This will list all of the files and directories in your home directory.

In Linux, the tilde (~) symbol represents a user’s home directory. For example, if your username is john, you can use the tilde to represent /home/john.

You can also use the tilde to represent a specific user’s home directory. For example, if you wanted to list all of the files in john’s home directory, you could use the following command: ls ~john.

If we wanted to find the home directory for the user ‘jane’, we would type in echo ~jane. This would print out /home/jane, which is Jane’s home directory.

The tilde symbol is a handy way to quickly access a user’s home directory without having to remember or type out the full path. Check this post to get info about file path in Linux.

Find user home directory with echo $HOME command in Linux

Another way to find a user’s home directory in Linux is using echo $HOME command. Open a terminal and type in the following command: echo $HOME. This will print out the value of the HOME environment variable, which is typically the home directory for the current user.

The $HOME is a shell environmental variable containing a full path to user directory. The $HOME variable is set automatically by the system upon its installation and is usually set to /home/username.

The echo command prints the value of a given variable or string to the terminal. This can be useful for troubleshooting purposes, or for seeing the value of a particular variable.

In the example above, we used echo $HOME to print out the home directory for the current user. This is a handy way to quickly find a user’s home directory without having to search through all of the directories on the system.

However, it is possible to set the $HOME variable to any custom path as required.

You can also use the HOME variable to access files in your home directory. For example, if you wanted to list all the files in your home directory, you could use the ls command like this: ls $HOME.

Get user home directory with pwd command in Linux

The pwd command is another way to get a user’s home directory in Linux. PWD stands for “print working directory”. When you run the pwd command, it will print out the full path of the current working directory.

open a new terminal and type in pwd. This will print out the full path of your current working directory. That is your home directory in Linux by default.

Check user home directory with grep username /etc/passwd command in Linux

You can check a user’s home directory in Linux is by looking in the /etc/passwd file. This file contains information about all of the users on the system, including their home directories.

To view this file, type in the following command: cat /etc/passwd. This will print out the contents of the file. Scroll through it until you find the entry for the user you are looking for.

The cat command is used to view the contents of files. It can be used to view the contents of a single file, or multiple files at the same time. To view the contents of a file, simply type “cat filename”. For example, if we wanted to view the contents of the /etc/passwd file, we would type “cat /etc/passwd”.

The output of cat command is as follows:
root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash
bin:x:1:1:bin:/bin:/sbin/nologin
daemon:x:2:2:daemon:/sbin:/sbin/nologin
adm:x:3:4:adm:/var/adm:/sbin/nologin
lp:x:4:7:lp:/var/spool/lpd:/sbin/nologin
sync:x:5:0::/home/sync:/bin/sync
shutdown:x:6::shutdown:/sbin:/sminit_sh

The drawback of the cat command is that it shows all users on the system. This can be confusing and overwhelming if you’re trying to find the home directory for a specific user.

We can use grep command to search the /etc/passwd file for a specific user. To do this, we will first need to find the line that contains the user’s information. We can do this by using the command “grep username /etc/passwd”.

This will print out the entire line that contains the username. Once we have found the correct line, we can use the cut command to extract just the home directory. To do this, we will type “grep username /etc/passwd|cut -d: -f 6”. This will print out only the home directory portion of the line.

The “cut -d” option is used to specify the delimiter (character) that is used to separate the fields in a text file. The “-f” option is used to specify the field number that we want to extract. In this example, we are extracting the sixth field from the line that contains the user’s home directory.

Example:
grep ocp /etc/passwd|cut -d: -f 6
/home/ocp

As you can see, there are a few different ways to find a user’s home directory in Linux. Whether you’re troubleshooting an issue or just trying to find a particular file, these methods should help you get the job done. Thanks for reading!

David Cao
David Cao

Hey there! I am David, a Cloud & DevOps Enthusiast and 18 years of experience as a Linux engineer. I work with AWS, Git & GitHub, Linux, Python, Ansible, and Bash. I am a technical blogger and a Software Engineer, enjoy sharing my learning and contributing to open-source.