chattr - change file attributes on a Linux file system
chattr [ -RVf ] [ -v version ] [ mode ] files...
chattr changes the file attributes on a Linux file system.
The format of a symbolic mode is +-=[acdeijstuACDST].
The operator `+' causes the selected attributes to be added to the existing attributes of
the files; `-' causes them to be removed; and `=' causes them to be the only attributes
that the files have.
The letters `acdeijstuACDST' select the new attributes for the files: append only (a),
compressed (c), no dump (d), extent format (e), immutable (i), data journalling (j),
secure deletion (s), no tail-merging (t), undeletable (u), no atime updates (A), no copy
on write (C), synchronous directory updates (D), synchronous updates (S), and top of
directory hierarchy (T).
The following attributes are read-only, and may be listed by lsattr(1) but not modified by
chattr: huge file (h), compression error (E), indexed directory (I), compression raw
access (X), and compressed dirty file (Z).
-R Recursively change attributes of directories and their contents.
-V Be verbose with chattr's output and print the program version.
-f Suppress most error messages.
Set the file's version/generation number.
When a file with the 'A' attribute set is accessed, its atime record is not modified.
This avoids a certain amount of disk I/O for laptop systems.
A file with the `a' attribute set can only be open in append mode for writing. Only the
superuser or a process possessing the CAP_LINUX_IMMUTABLE capability can set or clear this
A file with the `c' attribute set is automatically compressed on the disk by the kernel.
A read from this file returns uncompressed data. A write to this file compresses data
before storing them on the disk. Note: please make sure to read the bugs and limitations
section at the end of this document.
A file with the 'C' attribute set will not be subject to copy-on-write updates. This flag
is only supported on file systems which perform copy-on-write. (Note: For btrfs, the 'C'
flag should be set on new or empty files. If it is set on a file which already has data
blocks, it is undefined when the blocks assigned to the file will be fully stable. If the
'C' flag is set on a directory, it will have no effect on the directory, but new files
created in that directory will the No_COW attribute.)
When a directory with the `D' attribute set is modified, the changes are written syn-
chronously on the disk; this is equivalent to the `dirsync' mount option applied to a sub-
set of the files.
A file with the `d' attribute set is not candidate for backup when the dump(8) program is
The 'E' attribute is used by the experimental compression patches to indicate that a com-
pressed file has a compression error. It may not be set or reset using chattr(1),
although it can be displayed by lsattr(1).
The 'e' attribute indicates that the file is using extents for mapping the blocks on disk.
It may not be removed using chattr(1).
The 'I' attribute is used by the htree code to indicate that a directory is being indexed
using hashed trees. It may not be set or reset using chattr(1), although it can be dis-
played by lsattr(1).
The 'h' attribute indicates the file is storing its blocks in units of the filesystem
blocksize instead of in units of sectors, and means that the file is (or at one time was)
larger than 2TB. It may not be set or reset using chattr(1), although it can be displayed
A file with the `i' attribute cannot be modified: it cannot be deleted or renamed, no link
can be created to this file and no data can be written to the file. Only the superuser or
a process possessing the CAP_LINUX_IMMUTABLE capability can set or clear this attribute.
A file with the `j' attribute has all of its data written to the ext3 journal before being
written to the file itself, if the filesystem is mounted with the "data=ordered" or
"data=writeback" options. When the filesystem is mounted with the "data=journal" option
all file data is already journalled and this attribute has no effect. Only the superuser
or a process possessing the CAP_SYS_RESOURCE capability can set or clear this attribute.
When a file with the `s' attribute set is deleted, its blocks are zeroed and written back
to the disk. Note: please make sure to read the bugs and limitations section at the end
of this document.
When a file with the `S' attribute set is modified, the changes are written synchronously
on the disk; this is equivalent to the `sync' mount option applied to a subset of the
A directory with the 'T' attribute will be deemed to be the top of directory hierarchies
for the purposes of the Orlov block allocator. This is a hint to the block allocator used
by ext3 and ext4 that the subdirectories under this directory are not related, and thus
should be spread apart for allocation purposes. For example it is a very good idea to
set the 'T' attribute on the /home directory, so that /home/john and /home/mary are placed
into separate block groups. For directories where this attribute is not set, the Orlov
block allocator will try to group subdirectories closer together where possible.
A file with the 't' attribute will not have a partial block fragment at the end of the
file merged with other files (for those filesystems which support tail-merging). This is
necessary for applications such as LILO which read the filesystem directly, and which
don't understand tail-merged files. Note: As of this writing, the ext2 or ext3 filesys-
tems do not (yet, except in very experimental patches) support tail-merging.
When a file with the `u' attribute set is deleted, its contents are saved. This allows
the user to ask for its undeletion. Note: please make sure to read the bugs and limita-
tions section at the end of this document.
The 'X' attribute is used by the experimental compression patches to indicate that a raw
contents of a compressed file can be accessed directly. It currently may not be set or
reset using chattr(1), although it can be displayed by lsattr(1).
The 'Z' attribute is used by the experimental compression patches to indicate a compressed
file is dirty. It may not be set or reset using chattr(1), although it can be displayed
chattr was written by Remy Card <Remy.Card@linux.org>. It is currently being maintained
by Theodore Ts'o <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
BUGS AND LIMITATIONS
The `c', 's', and `u' attributes are not honored by the ext2, ext3, and ext4 filesystems
as implemented in the current mainline Linux kernels.
The `j' option is only useful if the filesystem is mounted as ext3.
The `D' option is only useful on Linux kernel 2.5.19 and later.
chattr is part of the e2fsprogs package and is available from http://e2fsprogs.source-
E2fsprogs version 1.42.9 December 2013 CHATTR(1)