CHOWN(2) Linux Programmer's Manual CHOWN(2)
chown, fchown, lchown - change ownership of a file
int chown(const char *path, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
int fchown(int fd, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
int lchown(const char *path, uid_t owner, gid_t group);
The owner of the file specified by path or by fd is changed. Only the
super-user 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 mem-
ber. The super-user may change the group arbitrarily.
If the owner or group is specified as -1, then that ID is not changed.
When the owner or group of an executable file are changed by a non-
super-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 behaviour depends on the kernel version. In case of a non-
group-executable file (with clear S_IXGRP bit) the S_ISGID bit indi-
cates mandatory locking, and is not cleared by a chown.
On success, zero is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is
Depending on the file system, other errors can be returned. The more
general errors for chown are listed below:
EPERM The effective UID does not match the owner of the file, and is
not zero; or the owner or group were specified incorrectly.
EROFS The named file resides on a read-only file system.
EFAULT path points outside your accessible address space.
path 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.
EACCES Search permission is denied on a component of the path prefix.
ELOOP Too many symbolic links were encountered in resolving path.
The general errors for fchown are listed below:
EBADF The descriptor is not valid.
ENOENT See above.
EPERM See above.
EROFS See above.
EIO A low-level I/O error occurred while modifying the inode.
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 prototype for fchown is only available if _BSD_SOURCE is defined
(either explicitly, or implicitly, by not defining _POSIX_SOURCE or
compiling with the -ansi flag).
The chown call conforms to SVr4, SVID, POSIX, X/OPEN. The 4.4BSD ver-
sion can only be used by the superuser (that is, ordinary users cannot
give away files). SVr4 documents EINVAL, EINTR, ENOLINK and EMULTIHOP
returns, but no ENOMEM. POSIX.1 does not document ENOMEM or ELOOP
The fchown call conforms to 4.4BSD and SVr4. SVr4 documents additional
EINVAL, EIO, EINTR, and ENOLINK error conditions.
The chown() semantics are deliberately violated on NFS file systems
which have UID mapping enabled. Additionally, the semantics of all
system 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 owner-
ship 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.
Linux 2.1.81 1997-05-18 CHOWN(2)