Customizing Your Linux Welcome Message using motd (Message of the Day)

In the world of Linux, the /etc/motd file plays a significant role as the "Message of the Day." It's not just a welcoming message; it's a powerful tool for system administrators to communicate important information to users and maintain system integrity. In this guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of the MOTD, from its purposes to how you can customize it to suit your needs.

# Why Use the MOTD

The /etc/motd file serves several crucial functions in the Linux ecosystem.

  1. Unified Communication
    Imagine managing a Linux system with numerous users, some of whom might not regularly interact with system administrators. The MOTD acts as a unified platform for conveying essential information every time a user logs in.
  2. Security Warnings
    Security is paramount and the MOTD can be employed to remind users of security best practices, from safeguarding passwords to reporting suspicious activities.
  3. Compliance and Logging
    In environments where compliance and auditing are paramount, the MOTD serves as evidence that users were presented with specific information upon login.
  4. System Identity
    For administrators juggling multiple systems, the MOTD aids in immediate identification of the system they've logged into. Each system can have its distinct message, making it easy to differentiate between them.

How to Edit and Change the MOTD

Modifying the MOTD is typically straightforward. Here's how you can do it

  1. Access the MOTD File
    You can use any text editor, such as nano, to edit the MOTD file. Open a terminal and enter the following command
    sudo nano /etc/motd
  2. Edit and Save
    Make your desired changes to the MOTD message using the text editor. Once you're done, save the file.
  3. Testing
    Exit shell environment and login. You should be presented with the new MOTD.

However, keep in mind that on some modern Linux systems, the MOTD might be generated dynamically using scripts, often found in the /etc/update-motd.d/ directory on Ubuntu-based systems. In such cases, you may need to adjust or add scripts in this directory to change the MOTD. The static content of /etc/motd could still be displayed, but it could be supplemented or overridden by these dynamic scripts.


The /etc/motd file in Linux is far more than a simple greeting; it's a versatile tool for system administrators to ensure unified communication, enhance security, and maintain compliance. Armed with the knowledge of its purpose and how to customize it, you can leverage the MOTD to make your Linux systems more efficient, secure, and user-friendly.