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CHOWN(2) System Calls Manual CHOWN(2)


chown, lchown, fchownat, fchownchange owner and group of a file or link


#include <sys/types.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <unistd.h>
chown(const char *path, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
lchown(const char *path, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
fchownat(int fd, const char *path, uid_t owner, gid_t group, int flag);
fchown(int fd, uid_t owner, gid_t group);


The owner ID and group ID of the file (or link) named by path or referenced by fd is changed as specified by the arguments owner and group. The owner of a file may change the group to a group of which he or she is a member, but the change owner capability is restricted to the superuser.
By default, chown() clears the set-user-ID and set-group-ID bits on the file to prevent accidental or mischievous creation of set-user-ID and set-group-ID programs. This behaviour can be overridden by setting the sysctl(8) variable fs.posix.setuid to zero.
lchown() operates similarly to how chown() operated on older systems, and does not follow symbolic links. It allows the owner and group of a symbolic link to be set.
The fchownat() function is equivalent to either the chown() or lchown() function depending on the value of flag (see below), except that where path specifies a relative path, the file whose ownership is changed is determined relative to the directory associated with file descriptor fd instead of the current working directory.
If fchownat() is passed the special value AT_FDCWD (defined in <fcntl.h>) in the fd parameter, the current working directory is used and the behavior is identical to a call to chown() or lchown(), depending on whether or not the AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW bit is set in flag.
Values for flag are constructed by bitwise-inclusive ORing flags from the following list defined in <fcntl.h>:
If path names a symbolic link, then the ownership of the symbolic link is changed.
fchown() is particularly useful when used in conjunction with the file locking primitives (see flock(2)).
One of the owner or group IDs may be left unchanged by specifying it as -1.


Zero is returned if the operation was successful; -1 is returned if an error occurs, with a more specific error code being placed in the global variable errno.


chown(), lchown(), and fchownat() will fail and the file or link will be unchanged if:
A component of the path prefix is not a directory.
A component of a pathname exceeded {NAME_MAX} characters, or an entire path name exceeded {PATH_MAX} characters.
The named file does not exist.
Search permission is denied for a component of the path prefix.
Too many symbolic links were encountered in translating the pathname.
The effective user ID is not the superuser.
The named file resides on a read-only file system.
path points outside the process's allocated address space.
An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.
Additionally, fchownat() will fail if:
The path argument does not specify an absolute path and the fd argument is neither AT_FDCWD nor a valid file descriptor open for reading.
fchown() will fail if:
fd does not refer to a valid descriptor.
fd refers to a socket, not a file.
The effective user ID is not the superuser.
The named file resides on a read-only file system.
An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.


chgrp(1), chmod(2), flock(2), chown(8)


The chown(), fchown(), fchownat(), and lchown() functions are expected to conform to IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”).


A chown() system call first appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX. Since Version 6 AT&T UNIX it supports changing the group as well, and in Version 7 AT&T UNIX group was made a separate argument.
The fchown() system call first appeared in 4.2BSD.
The chown() and fchown() functions were changed to follow symbolic links in 4.4BSD; therefore, and for compatibility with AT&T System V Release 4 UNIX, the lchown() function was added to OpenBSD 2.1.
The fchownat() function appeared in OpenBSD 5.0.
November 7, 2011 OpenBSD-5.1