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I am trying to work out a strategy to appropriately hand out certain levels of permissions to junior admins on the system across multiple distributions, especially Ubuntu Server and RedHat Enterprise Linux, but also the occasional Debian and CentOS machines. I'm trying to find documentation on what each of the groups in these distros is for.

Some I know simply from having used them, but I'd like to see more certainly. For example, I understand group 'adm' on Ubuntu only gives access to logs, but I'm not confident of that and I seem to see that RedHat uses that as a full admin group. I'm having a terrible time searching this information due to the huge proliferation of "Linux User Groups" and documentation on how to add a user to a group, create a group and all that. None of it is what I'm looking for.

Where can I find appropriate documentation on this?

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I have a Debian/Ubuntu portion of the answer, but still need this for RedHat and that crowd. – flickerfly Aug 13 '12 at 17:33

in Debian / Ubuntu, it is documented in /usr/share/doc/base-passwd/users-and-groups.html or users-and-groups.txt.

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That's a good part of it. Thanks! Just a note, the txt version is gzipped in my version of the distro. So the name is users-and-groups.txt.gz. Also, an amusing note in that file that reflects what I'm trying to figure out reads. "HELP: Perhaps policy should state the purpose of this group so users may be safely added to it, in certainty that all they'll be able to do is read logs. Wouldn't hurt to rename it 'log' either ... " At least it makes me feel validated. :-) – flickerfly Aug 1 '12 at 19:20

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