Linux for Starters

Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Managing Users – Part 15

This is a series that offers a gentle introduction to Linux for newcomers.

This article explains how to create users on your Ubuntu machine. Let’s start with a brief explanation of groups as they are central to the process.


Groups help define the permissions and access for each user account. They determine who has access to files, directories, settings, devices, and more. Finding out the groups to which a user account belongs helps give you a better understanding of that user’s access (and troubleshoot when things don’t function as expected).

In a default desktop installation, the first user on the system is considered an administrator. That user is a member of various groups. The groups command shows the groups to which a user belongs.

Open a Terminal. At the shell prompt, type the command:

$ groups

Linux for Starters - Managing Users - Groups

As you can see, the default user (in this case sde) is a member of 9 groups. The first group is specific to the user.

The remaining 8 groups grant the following privileges:

  • adm – used for system monitoring tasks. Members of this group can read many log files in /var/log, and can use xconsole;
  • cdrom – gives a user access to a CDROM drive and other optical drives;
  • sudo – users of this group can execute any command with sudo or pkexec;
  • dip – stands for “Dial-up IP”, and membership in dip allows the user to use tools like ppp, dip, wvdial, etc. to dial up a connection;
  • plugdev – allows users to mount and umount removable devices through pmount;
  • lpadmin – allows users to manage printers and pending jobs sent by other users;
  • lxd – allows users to create and manage Linux containers;
  • sambashare – gives access to share files with the local network.

On the next two pages, we show you how to create a new user. First, we take you through the process using the graphical interface.

Page 2 – Create a new user with the GUI

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Groups
Page 2 – Create a new user with the GUI
Page 3 – Create a new user with the command-line

All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters: Your Guide to Linux
Part 1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
Part 2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
Part 3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
Part 4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
Part 5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
Part 6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
Part 7Updating the system, install new software.
Part 8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
Part 9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
Part 10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
Part 11Getting help from your system.
Part 12Learn all about the file system.
Part 13Manipulating files from the shell.
Part 14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
Part 15Managing users on your system.
Part 16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
Part 17Gaming on Linux.
Part 18Protect your privacy with this guide.
Part 19Access the Windows desktop from Linux using a remote desktop client.
Part 20Set up a virtual machine running Ubuntu as the host and openSUSE as the guest.
Part 21Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux without emulation.
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