File Permissions

As you learned in Chapter 5, permissions are of three types: read, write, and execute (r, w, x). For any file or directory, permissions can be established in three categories: user, group, and global. In this section, we focus on group permissions, but there is a highlight of the commands used to change the group, user, or access permissions of a file or directory:

• chgrp Changes the group ownership of a file or directory

• chown Changes the owner of a file or directory

• chmod Changes the access permissions of a file or directory

These commands, which modify file ownerships and permissions, can be used to model organizational structures and permissions in the real world onto your Ubuntu system (see the next section, "Managing Groups"). For example, a human resources department can share health-benefit memos to all company employees by making the files readable (but not writable) by anyone in an accessible directory. On the other hand, programmers in the company's research and development section, although able to access each other's source code files, would not have read or write access to HR pay-scale or personnel files (and certainly would not want HR or marketing poking around R&D).

These commands are used to easily manage group and file ownerships and permissions from the command line. It is essential that you know these commands because sometimes you might have only a command-line interface to work with; perhaps some idiot system administrator set incorrect permissions on X11, for example, rendering the system incapable of working with a graphical interface.

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