Monday, 6 February 2012

How-to: Add Users to Groups in Ubuntu 11.10

Amongst the mixed bag of fail in Ubuntu 11.10 is the lack of a proper user and group admin tool. We had one in 11.04, you could do anything with user and group permissions from a graphical interface. Easy.

Come 11.10, that goes away and all you can do is add or remove user accounts or change the account type (Standard or Administrator). Canonical: you upgraded something useful (nay, essential) out of existence!

How is this making Ubuntu easier to use and more desirable to the new users whom Mark Spaceshuttle is trying to attract in the millions? You just made a large number of us resort to a command line. Again. Back in the geek ghetto. How 'very Linux.' FAIL. Anyway, moving on...

Try setting up Virtualbox and Samba shares and see how far you get. If you want to add new or existing users to existing groups, it is impossible to do from the user account management dialog box.

Open a Terminal (Ctrl-Alt-T keyboard shortcut). The command to list all existing groups on your system is:


but <PRESS TAB KEY 3 TIMES, not enter

robin@D6400:~$ groupmod
adm            disk           man            rtkit          tty
admin          fax            messagebus     sambashare     users
audio          floppy         mlocate        saned          utempter
avahi          fuse           netdev         sasl           utmp
avahi-autoipd  games          news           scanner        uucp
backup         gnats          nogroup        shadow         vboxusers
bin            irc            nopasswdlogin  src            vickip
bluetooth      kmem           operator       ssh            video
cdrom          libuuid        plugdev        ssl-cert       voice
colord         lightdm        proxy          staff          www-data
crontab        list           pulse          sudo          
daemon         lp             pulse-access   sys           
dialout        lpadmin        robin          syslog        
dip            mail           root           tape

This is a list of the current groups on my system.

The command to add an existing user to an existing group follows the format:

sudo usermod -a -G GROUPNAME USERNAME

Replace <Groupname> with active group name and <Username> with an account name. For example:

sudo usermod -a -G samabashare robin

Being a command line, you don't get feedback. To verify success, run the command:

cat /etc/group

The username should appear on all groups the user is a member.

Perhaps Ubuntu 12.04 will restore the missing utility. Incidentally, there's an Xfce equivalent; for whatever reason, Canonical stripped it from the Unity 11.04 release. RC