MacPorts that use dscl create group records with password keys -- is this an error?

Tabitha McNerney tabithamc at
Fri Aug 15 18:19:09 PDT 2008

On Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 6:58 AM, Peter O'Gorman <peter at> wrote:

> Tabitha McNerney wrote:
> > Hello all --
> >
> > Recently I have been industrializing my company's use of MacPorts on
> > Xserve, and I noticed something interesting today, namely, that password
> > record are created by some MacPorts installations for Group record
> > types. Do Groups need passwords? I'm not so sure they do and this could
> > be a bug.
> It is simply following convention. For example, /etc/group has entries
> groupname:password:gid:members, my /etc/group file has:
> wheel:*:0:root
> and dscl . read /Groups/wheel (output abbreviated)
> GroupMembership: root
> Password: *
> PrimaryGroupID: 0
> And the group(5) manpage says:
> The passwd field is an optional encrypted password.  This field is
> rarely used and an asterisk is normally placed in it rather than leaving
> it blank.

Peter, thanks a ton for that explanation. Makes total sense, but I didn't
realize it was convention to use an asterisk to mean blank!

One of the problems I had with my Ruby script was that the asterisk was
being expanded as a meta character on Unix (which is not surprising of
course) and so I figured I have to enclose it with quotes to escape the
asterisk to keep it from being interpreted on the command-line via my script
as a meta character.



> Peter
> --
> Peter O'Gorman
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