The Java EE 5 Tutorial

What Is a User?

A user is an individual (or application program) identity that has been defined in the Application Server. In a web application, a user can have a set of roles associated with that identity, which entitles them to access all resources protected by those roles. Users can be associated with a group.

A Java EE user is similar to an operating system user. Typically, both types of users represent people. However, these two types of users are not the same. The Java EE server authentication service has no knowledge of the user name and password you provide when you log on to the operating system. The Java EE server authentication service is not connected to the security mechanism of the operating system. The two security services manage users that belong to different realms.