How to change admin user for GUI?

Josef Wolf jw at
Wed Nov 7 15:27:01 UTC 2012

Thanks for all the answers. Unfortunately, no solution yet. :-(

To keep the thead compact, I summarize my answer in a single mail instead of
answering every post in a separate mail,

Liam Proven wrote:
> In the end, after some Googling and no clear answers, I just
> reformatted & reinstalled.

Liam, this is the windows way to solve a problem :-)

For about 20 years, the big plus for linux was that it was possible to fix
problems without reinstalling. Too bad that Ubuntu is on the way to adopt bad
windows behavior :-((

Tommy Trussell wrote:
> notice that the first administrative account is a member of all sorts of
> groups. It's been awhile since I looked, but is the second administrative
> account a member of all the same groups?

I made sure (with usermod) that both users are in the groups "sudo" and "adm".
The other groups (which I can't remember at the moment) did not make sense for
the problem at hand.

Amichai Rotman wrote:
> The trick is to switch the UIDs. I am not by my Ubuntu box now, but I think
> the first user created gets UID 1001.

I don't think this is a proper solution, for two reasons:
- It is tricky to get the file ownership right after such a change. You would
  need to run a combination of find/chown, using some non-existant UID as
  temporary setting.
- Only a totally braindead configuration would use the UID instead of the
  username. Therefore, swapping the UIDs will most likely _not_ fix the

Karl Auer wrote:
> When you use sudo, whose password is requested?

When using sudo on the command line, he can use his own PW, as it should be.

Karl Auer wrote:
> *How* did you create the second user?

I used adduser to create the new user and used "Settings|User Accounts" to
give him administrator rights.

Karl Auer wrote:
> Check that you have different user IDs (look in the /etc/passwd file) and
> that you have not inadvertently chosen user names that match other usernames
> in that file.

The users have different IDs and no duplicated usernames exist. /etc/passwd
looks fine.

Karl Auer wrote:
> You've said he is logged in as himself, not as you. How exactly did he
> log in? If the machine is rebooted and left alone, it will eventually
> present a login dialogue - is it this dialogue that he uses to log in?

He logs in with his own username and his own PW on the standard login dialog
when the machine starts up.

Karl Auer wrote:
> What happens when he runs gksudo from the command line - whose password
> is requested?

I have not tried that (yet). But why should this differ from what sudo is

Karl Auer wrote:
> If you can reveal them, what specific usernames are involved?

His name is roman, my name is jw. Why should this matter?

NoOp wrote:
> In order to install updates & make system changes he must be a member of
> the adm group. You can do this by adding him to the group:
> $ sudo adduser <username> adm
> You can of course change him from a 'Standard' user to 'Administrator'
> using Settings|User Accounts.

He _is_ in the adm group.
He _is_ shown as "Administrator" in Settings|User Accounts

NoOp wrote:
> To get the old 'Users and Groups' application back: [ ... ]

The user _is_ recognized as "Administrator". I _have_ made sure the user/group
settings are correct. The user _is_ advertized as "Administrator". He _can_
run "sudo aptitude upgrade" using his own password.

Oliver Grawert wrote:
> the adm group is only for access to files in /var/log, you want the
> "sudo" group (or in older releases the "admin" group)

He _is_ in the sudo group.

The problem is with some configuration setting that affects the behavior of
Update-Manager and Software-Center, and maybe some other applications. Maybe
some gnome-setting? But I could not find the gnome editor on the system?!?

On Tue, Nov 06, 2012 at 08:43:10PM +0100, Josef Wolf wrote:
> Hello,
> I have installed ubuntu-12.4 for a friend. Since he is not a computer guy and
> I will need to do the administration on this computer, the first admin account
> I created was an account for me. Then I created a second admin account for
> him. We can both use sudo to do the administration on command line.
> Since he is not familiar with the command line, he is doing everything with
> the GUI. But when he does anything that needs root permissions (e.g. update
> the system), the GUI asks for _my_ password.
> How can I change this setting so that _his_ PW is asked instead?
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