CHOWN(2) Linux Programmer's Manual CHOWN(2)
chown, fchown, lchown, fchownat - change ownership of a file
int chown(const char *pathname, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
int fchown(int fd, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
int lchown(const char *pathname, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
#include <fcntl.h> /* Definition of AT_* constants */
int fchownat(int dirfd, const char *pathname,
uid_t owner, gid_t group, int flags);
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
/* Since glibc 2.12: */ _POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L
|| _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 500
|| /* Glibc versions <= 2.19: */ _BSD_SOURCE
Since glibc 2.10:
_POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L
Before glibc 2.10:
These system calls change the owner and group of a file. The chown(), fchown(), and lchown() system calls differ only in how the file is
* chown() changes the ownership of the file specified by pathname, which is dereferenced if it is a symbolic link.
* fchown() changes the ownership of the file referred to by the open file descriptor fd.
* lchown() is like chown(), but does not dereference symbolic links.
Only a privileged process (Linux: one with the CAP_CHOWN capability) may change the owner of a file. The owner of a file may change the
group of the file to any group of which that owner is a member. A privileged process (Linux: with CAP_CHOWN) may change the group arbi-
If the owner or group is specified as -1, then that ID is not changed.
When the owner or group of an executable file is changed by an unprivileged user, the S_ISUID and S_ISGID mode bits are cleared. POSIX
does not specify whether this also should happen when root does the chown(); the Linux behavior depends on the kernel version, and since
Linux 2.2.13, root is treated like other users. In case of a non-group-executable file (i.e., one for which the S_IXGRP bit is not set)
the S_ISGID bit indicates mandatory locking, and is not cleared by a chown().
When the owner or group of an executable file is changed (by any user), all capability sets for the file are cleared.
The fchownat() system call operates in exactly the same way as chown(), except for the differences described here.
If the pathname given in pathname is relative, then it is interpreted relative to the directory referred to by the file descriptor dirfd
(rather than relative to the current working directory of the calling process, as is done by chown() for a relative pathname).
If pathname is relative and dirfd is the special value AT_FDCWD, then pathname is interpreted relative to the current working directory of
the calling process (like chown()).
If pathname is absolute, then dirfd is ignored.
The flags argument is a bit mask created by ORing together 0 or more of the following values;
AT_EMPTY_PATH (since Linux 2.6.39)
If pathname is an empty string, operate on the file referred to by dirfd (which may have been obtained using the open(2) O_PATH
flag). In this case, dirfd can refer to any type of file, not just a directory. If dirfd is AT_FDCWD, the call operates on the
current working directory. This flag is Linux-specific; define _GNU_SOURCE to obtain its definition.
If pathname is a symbolic link, do not dereference it: instead operate on the link itself, like lchown(). (By default, fchownat()
dereferences symbolic links, like chown().)
See openat(2) for an explanation of the need for fchownat().
On success, zero is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.
Depending on the filesystem, errors other than those listed below can be returned.
The more general errors for chown() are listed below.
EACCES Search permission is denied on a component of the path prefix. (See also path_resolution(7).)
EFAULT pathname points outside your accessible address space.
ELOOP Too many symbolic links were encountered in resolving pathname.
pathname is too long.
ENOENT The file does not exist.
ENOMEM Insufficient kernel memory was available.
A component of the path prefix is not a directory.
EPERM The calling process did not have the required permissions (see above) to change owner and/or group.
EPERM The file is marked immutable or append-only. (See ioctl_iflags(2).)
EROFS The named file resides on a read-only filesystem.
The general errors for fchown() are listed below:
EBADF fd is not a valid open file descriptor.
EIO A low-level I/O error occurred while modifying the inode.
ENOENT See above.
EPERM See above.
EROFS See above.
The same errors that occur for chown() can also occur for fchownat(). The following additional errors can occur for fchownat():
EBADF dirfd is not a valid file descriptor.
EINVAL Invalid flag specified in flags.
pathname is relative and dirfd is a file descriptor referring to a file other than a directory.
fchownat() was added to Linux in kernel 2.6.16; library support was added to glibc in version 2.4.
chown(), fchown(), lchown(): 4.4BSD, SVr4, POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008.
The 4.4BSD version can be used only by the superuser (that is, ordinary users cannot give away files).
Ownership of new files
When a new file is created (by, for example, open(2) or mkdir(2)), its owner is made the same as the filesystem user ID of the creating
process. The group of the file depends on a range of factors, including the type of filesystem, the options used to mount the filesystem,
and whether or not the set-group-ID mode bit is enabled on the parent directory. If the filesystem supports the -o grpid (or, synonymously
-o bsdgroups) and -o nogrpid (or, synonymously -o sysvgroups) mount(8) options, then the rules are as follows:
* If the filesystem is mounted with -o grpid, then the group of a new file is made the same as that of the parent directory.
* If the filesystem is mounted with -o nogrpid and the set-group-ID bit is disabled on the parent directory, then the group of a new file
is made the same as the process's filesystem GID.
* If the filesystem is mounted with -o nogrpid and the set-group-ID bit is enabled on the parent directory, then the group of a new file is
made the same as that of the parent directory.
As at Linux 4.12, the -o grpid and -o nogrpid mount options are supported by ext2, ext3, ext4, and XFS. Filesystems that don't support
these mount options follow the -o nogrpid rules.
On older kernels where fchownat() is unavailable, the glibc wrapper function falls back to the use of chown() and lchown(). When pathname
is a relative pathname, glibc constructs a pathname based on the symbolic link in /proc/self/fd that corresponds to the dirfd argument.
The chown() semantics are deliberately violated on NFS filesystems which have UID mapping enabled. Additionally, the semantics of all sys-
tem calls which access the file contents are violated, because chown() may cause immediate access revocation on already open files. Client
side caching may lead to a delay between the time where ownership have been changed to allow access for a user and the time where the file
can actually be accessed by the user on other clients.
The original Linux chown(), fchown(), and lchown() system calls supported only 16-bit user and group IDs. Subsequently, Linux 2.4 added
chown32(), fchown32(), and lchown32(), supporting 32-bit IDs. The glibc chown(), fchown(), and lchown() wrapper functions transparently
deal with the variations across kernel versions.
In versions of Linux prior to 2.1.81 (and distinct from 2.1.46), chown() did not follow symbolic links. Since Linux 2.1.81, chown() does
follow symbolic links, and there is a new system call lchown() that does not follow symbolic links. Since Linux 2.1.86, this new call
(that has the same semantics as the old chown()) has got the same syscall number, and chown() got the newly introduced number.
The following program changes the ownership of the file named in its second command-line argument to the value specified in its first com-
mand-line argument. The new owner can be specified either as a numeric user ID, or as a username (which is converted to a user ID by using
getpwnam(3) to perform a lookup in the system password file).
main(int argc, char *argv)
struct passwd *pwd;
if (argc != 3 || argv == '