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"This could get the same treatment as /etc/passwd if it becomes a burden. In the meantime, if it's a performance bottleneck, make a memoizing function to lookup groups and use a '-n' switch to ls."

Exactly, and this is the sort of thing that can be done with open source software. It may not even be a lot of code depending on how it is approached.

It's not even clear that for small password files, scanning /etc/passwd is any slower than a database. It's likely already in memory, and a full scan of a few kilobytes of text in highly optimized C is likely to take only microseconds.

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