Automated user management with Expect

At the large school in Mexico where I'm employed as a system manager, I proposed (and got) a Linux server to replace an old Windows 2000 file server and domain controller for the alumni. I then was faced with the task of adding 3,000 users to this new CentOS 5 server. I wasn't about to add thousands of users and their passwords one by one to the new Samba primary domain controller (PDC) system. With a little help from OpenOffice.org Calc, a utility called Expect, and shell scripts, I automated the process.

I previously set up Samba as the PDC, added groups, and configured the firewall -- all the basics -- before I began the task of adding users. I started by creating a Calc worksheet, into which I placed the student ID, full name, and school section, in a format something like this: