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File Permissions and the chmod/chgrp/chown commands

The chmod/chgrp/chown commands are used to change the permissions/ownership

of files and/or directories. Linux is often used as a multi-user system and

it is not desirable that all users have access to all files and directories.

For eg. : On a multi-user environment in a corporate office using a central

server running linux , it might be required the accounts documents be shared

between employees of the acccounts department . At the same time, it might

be undesirable and indeed dangerous if anyone having access to the server

is able to read/edit them.

It is for such situations that Linux has a 3X3 permission system.

There are 3 levels of security for a file :

Read Permission : Permission to read a file (r)

Write Permission : Permission to edit a file (w)

Execute Permission : Permission to execute a file if it is executable


and 3 different levels for a directory :

Enter Permission : Permission to Enter into the Directory

Show Entry : Permission to see the contents of the Directory

Write Entry : Permission to make a new file or subdirectory in

the Directory

For granting the above permissions, users are divided into 3 different


User : The owner of the file/directory - mostly the person

who created the file/directory

Group : Linux users can be divided in groups and one user can

be a member of more than one group.

A Group denotes all users who are members of group(s)

to which the owner of a file/directory belongs

Others : All users not in the group(s) of the owner.

For eg :

A user level r/w/x permission means only the owner can read, write and

execute the file

A group level r/w/x permission means only the members of group(s) to which

the owner belongs can read, write and execute the file

An other level r/w/x permission means Everyone can read/write/execute

the file.

The chmod Command

The chmod command is used to change the permissions of files/directories

in linux. It\\\\\\\'s syntax is as follows :

chmod -R/c/f/v [u / g / o / a] [+ / - / =] [rwxXstugo..]

for eg. if u want to give all users in the group of the owner just read

permission to a file called foo.txt, the command is

chmod g+r /home/aarjav/foo.txt