Ubuntu admin—users and groups

It seems that I do admin for Ubuntu users and groups just infrequently enough, that every time I have to go look this stuff up and decide which to use. So I collected it in one place that I should be able to find next time.  I put it here just in case it might help someone else in the meanwhile.

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Principle of Indistinguishability

a.k.a. Principle of Indifference:

If you can’t tell the difference, it doesn’t matter.

Some of us have no problem reaching a crisp decision. Right or wrong, they deal with what the job (or life) brings them, deal with the consequences, and carry on.

Others (including this writer) tend to think things through, understand things in depth, carefully identify options and weigh alternatives, seek other opinions, and generally dither about before creeping up to a decision.

Having been accepted to three schools, which one should I pick? Which job offer/marriage proposal should I accept? Is it time to replace my furnace yet? Which TV should I buy? Which commuting route to the office today? Deer in the headlights, squirrel that won’t dash off the road. Should I stay or should I go now? (asked The Clash, covered by Weezer).

When a decision turns out to be a difficult one, generally it’s because the alternatives are pretty much equivalent: they’re equally good, or equally bad. But you know, if they really are equal, then it doesn’t matter which one we pick! The very thing that makes the decision hard to reach actually minimizes the problem of picking the “wrong” one—which should make it easier to decide. Perhaps the psychologists can explain our paradoxical behavior.

A side case is when you lack information that is necessary to make a truly informed decision. Rather than freeze, we can identify the information that would actually change our decision, and seek it—and there is no need to wait for info that would not change the decision. Also, if the consequences of delaying outweigh the consequences of deciding wrong, we have to just close our eyes and jump.