Changing motd on Ubuntu

Here’s a quick tutorial for sysadmins who want to customize their welcome banner in Ubuntu.

Connect to your box:
ssh -l login host -p port

sudo up to a super user
sudo su -

and change to the /etc directory
cd /etc

use vi, pico or nano to edit the following to files: motd.tail and motd
nano -w motd.tail

Change the banner to whatever you want.

Save the documents, and this should now be live.
Exit out of the current account and log out of the session

Test it by ssh-ing back into the box.

The .tail edit is required to it doesn’t reset after reboot as the .tail overwrites the motd file.

Have fun, be creative!

  • EDIT

Please note that in Ubuntu 18 there’s /etc/update-motd.d with scripts.

Personally I don’t care much for any login welcome message any more. I just delete these. You can -x remove their executable rights, and add your own.