But POSIX ACLs are basically permission bits, just without the "one user plus one group" limitation. They still govern read, write, and execute/search permissions for specific users and groups and "others". I don't see how requiring multiple directory entries for the same effect is a "more sensible" solution.
That the UNIX permissions model could have been better--I have no argument with you there. We could have used POSIX-style ACLs from the beginning, and skipped the restrictive user/group/other model entirely.
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