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CHOWN(8) NetBSD System Manager's Manual CHOWN(8)
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chown -- change file owner and group
chown [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-dfhv] owner[:group] file ...
chown [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-dfhv] :group file ...
chown [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-dfhv] --reference=rfile file ...
chown sets the user ID and/or the group ID of the specified files. Sym-
bolic links named by arguments are silently left unchanged unless -h is
The options are as follows:
-H If the -R option is specified, symbolic links on the command line
are followed. (Symbolic links encountered in the tree traversal
are not followed.)
-L If the -R option is specified, all symbolic links are followed.
-P If the -R option is specified, no symbolic links are followed.
-R Change the user ID and/or the group ID for the file hierarchies
rooted in the files instead of just the files themselves.
-d Do not attempt to update a file's owner or group or its set-user-
id and set-group-id bits if they are all already set to the
-f Do not report any failure to change file owner or group, nor mod-
ify the exit status to reflect such failures.
-h If file is a symbolic link, the owner and/or group of the link is
-v Cause chown to be verbose, showing files as they are processed.
The -H, -L and -P options are ignored unless the -R option is specified.
In addition, these options override each other and the command's actions
are determined by the last one specified. The default is as if the -P
option had been specified.
The -L option cannot be used together with the -h option.
The owner and group operands are both optional, however, one must be
specified; alternatively, both the owner and group may be specified using
a reference rfile specified using the --reference argument. If the group
operand is specified, it must be preceded by a colon (``:'') character.
The owner may be either a user name or a numeric user ID. The group may
be either a group name or a numeric group ID. Since it is valid to have
a user or group name that is numeric (and does not have the numeric ID
that matches its name) the name lookup is always done first. Preceding
an ID with a ``#'' character will force it to be taken as a number.
The ownership of a file may only be altered by a super-user for obvious
Unless invoked by the super-user, chown clears the set-user-id and set-
group-id bits on a file to prevent accidental or mischievous creation of
set-user-id and set-group-id programs.
The chown utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.
Previous versions of the chown utility used the dot (``.'') character to
distinguish the group name. This has been changed to be a colon (``:'')
character so that user and group names may contain the dot character.
chflags(1), chgrp(1), find(1), chown(2), lchown(2), fts(3), symlink(7)
The chown command is expected to be POSIX 1003.2 compliant.
The -v and -d options and the use of ``#'' to force a numeric lookup are
extensions to IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'').
A chown utility appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
NetBSD 10.99 May 19, 2023 NetBSD 10.99