In traditional UNIX, information about users was kept in the file /etc/passwd. As the
name suggests, it included the passwords, which were stored in encrypted form. Any
user could read this file, but the encryption was strong enough that it wasn’t practical to
decrypt the passwords. Nowadays processors are much faster, and it’s too easy to crack a
password. As a result, FreeBSD keeps the real information in a file called /etc/master.
passwd, and for performance reasons it also makes it available in database form in
/etc/pwd.db and /etc/spwd.db. None of these file are user-readable. /etc/passwd remains
for compatibility reasons: some third-party programs access it directly to...