On large systems with many users, you need to control the amount of disk space a user has access to. Disk quotas are designed specifically for this purpose. Quotas, managed per each partition, can be set for both individual users as well as groups; quotas for the group need not be as large as the aggregate quotas for the individuals in the groups.
When files are created, both a user and a group own them; ownership of the files is always part of the metadata about the files. This makes quotas based on both users and groups easy to manage.
To manage disk quotas, you must have the quota and quotatool packages installed on your system. Quota management with Ubuntu is not enabled by default and has traditionally been enabled and configured manually by system administrators. Sysadmins use the family of quota commands, such as quotacheck to initialize the quota database files, edquota to set and edit user quotas, setquota to configure disk quotas, and quotaon or quotaoff to control the service. (Other utilities include warnquota for automatically sending mail to users over their disk space usage limit.)