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I have a long list of usernames in /etc/passwd as well as my own user name. It says all of them have no login credentials except my user name and root, what is the purpose of these additional users on my system that I was previously unaware of?

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These are system ids that are used to run various services. They can be given specific privileges (you will find many of them in /etc/group). This is better than running all the services as root, because this limits the damage if something goes wrong (or the service is hacked).

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