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Why is it that when I provide a username during the installation process for Ubuntu, that a new group is created with that name too?

Is there a reason we're not just plain Administrators?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Being an administrator just opens up a bunch of other options to you as a user (they are mostly unimportant), but it won't really change anything.

By default, the first user (the one you create from the installer) is an administrator (essentially) with some options disabled for safety. The reason everyone gets a separate group is simply because it makes it easier to manage permissions (on a Unix) system in this way.

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So if I want to add another user like myself, do I (1) add them ad Adminstrator, (2) add them as <my-group>, or (3) create a new group for them with their own name, or (4) do something else? None of these makes sense to me. :( – Mehrdad May 21 '11 at 22:56
@Mehrdad, when you add a new user, a group is automatically created for them, and you can choose what type of user they are. Normally, you would choose desktop user. – RolandiXor May 21 '11 at 23:00
@Roland: Wait, I'm confused -- what's the difference between a group and a kind of user? Are you saying you can be in the root group but be a Desktop User at the same time? – Mehrdad May 21 '11 at 23:02
@Mehrdad a group is just that: a group. A kind of a user is, well, let's say, a definition of the things that the user in question can and cannot do. For example, if you are an administrator, you can add other users and do things root can do. If you are part of the printer group, you can use printers... if you are not part of the group then you cannot. – RolandiXor May 21 '11 at 23:05
@Roland: This is so different from Windows, it's confusing the heck out of me, haha. In Windows, groups and "kinds of users" are synonymous. Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but how many "kinds of users" are there then? Is there a text file where I can set the kinds of users manually? – Mehrdad May 21 '11 at 23:06

This is necessary because of Linux file system rights. Linux (and other Unix variants) have a right setting for 3 types of users: a owner, a owning group and "others" (i.e. someone who's not the owner and not in the owning group). All files (on linux filesystems) are obliged to have a owner and owning group.

Since usually files that are created by a user are meant for that user only the owner is set to the user and the owning group is set to a special group the user belongs to: the group with the user its name. Thats why such a group is created whenever a new user is created.

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So that means the Administrator and Desktop User groups are pretty much useless? (Edit: Apparently those aren't "groups" at all, I'm so confused...) – Mehrdad May 21 '11 at 23:05

There is you, root (admin), and everyone else. You're automatically added to sudoers and can perform as root(admin) via sudo because of your group status. Root and Administrator are pretty synonymous.

Ubuntu wants to make it easy for users to get up and running without having to install and configure all that stuff.

EDIT: Read RootSudo

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@wojox: Hm... I'm not sure I quite understand what you mean. I've posted a screenshot; I'm wondering why the second option isn't selected? – Mehrdad May 21 '11 at 22:41
Second option is selected. Open a terminal and type: groups – wojox May 21 '11 at 23:11
You'll notice your in the admin group as well. – wojox May 21 '11 at 23:14
@wojox: But I'm also in other groups, which begs my question of "why"? Would I lose something if I was just an admin? – Mehrdad May 21 '11 at 23:27
You could loose alot by just running as Admin aka root. It's not good practice. – wojox May 21 '11 at 23:30

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