BSD 2.11 - man page for sticky (bsd section 8)
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sticky - persistent text and append-only directories
The sticky bit (file mode bit 01000, see chmod(2)) is used to indicate special treatment
for certain executable files and directories.
STICKY TEXT EXECUTABLE FILES
While the `sticky bit' is set on a sharable executable file, the text of that file will
not be removed from the system swap area. Thus the file does not have to be fetched from
the file system upon each execution. Shareable text segments are normally placed in a
least-frequently-used cache after use, and thus the `sticky bit' has little effect on com-
monly-used text images.
Sharable executable files are made by the -n and -z options of ld(1).
Only the super-user can set the sticky bit on a sharable executable file.
A directory whose `sticky bit' is set becomes an append-only directory, or, more accu-
rately, a directory in which the deletion of files is restricted. A file in a sticky
directory may only be removed or renamed by a user if the user has write permission for
the directory and the user is the owner of the file, the owner of the directory, or the
super-user. This feature is usefully applied to directories such as /tmp which must be
publicly writable but should deny users the license to arbitrarily delete or rename each
Any user may create a sticky directory. See chmod(1) for details about modifying file
Since the text areas of sticky text executables are stashed in the swap area, abuse of the
feature can cause a system to run out of swap.
Neither open(2) nor mkdir(2) will create a file with the sticky bit set.
4th Berkeley Distribution May 26, 1986 STICKY(8)
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