[sf-lug] gecos (interesting artifact re system mail)

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli at cal.berkeley.edu
Mon Feb 16 02:02:45 PST 2009

> Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2009 09:35:59 -0800 (PST)
> From: Asheesh Laroia <asheesh at asheesh.org>
> Subject: Re: [sf-lug] interesting artifact re system mail
> 	configuration
> To: sf-lug <sf-lug at linuxmafia.com>
> Message-ID: <alpine.DEB.2.00.0902020934380.7868 at vellum.laroia.net>
> Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
> On Mon, 2 Feb 2009, jim wrote:
> I think that our friend Rick has a page about this somewhere. (-:
>>   the mail client picked up the hostname from
>> the comment field in /etc/passwd for the
>> current user. why i'd put the hostname (sill)
>> there escapes me, but i did.
> That's pretty weird of you! (-;
> Anyway, "chfn" is the tool to avoid hacking /etc/passwd by hand.

Well, it's not "really" a comment field ;-) ... it's a fair bit
more structured than that.  It's really a field, that optionally
contains additionally sub-fields separated by comma (,).
The first sub-field (or the whole thing, if no commas
present in that field) - is name, or full name - that's where mail
programs and the like get information on the name to associate
with the login name, and they'll typically associate that with the
email address when sending, using the name or full name part as
comment data, e.g. typically formated as:
Name <login at FQDN_of_host>
login at FQDN_of_host (Name)
Anyway, precise intrepretation of the sub-fields may vary a bit.
I seem to most have seen something like:
(Full) Name
Office (location)
work phone
home phone
... but these do vary.


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