Quick Navigator

Search Site

Unix VPS
A - Starter
B - Basic
C - Preferred
D - Commercial
MPS - Dedicated
Previous VPSs
* Sign Up! *

Contact Us
Online Help
Domain Status
Man Pages

Virtual Servers

Topology Map

Server Agreement
Year 2038

USA Flag



Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  CHOWN (2)


chown, fchown, lchown, fchownat - change owner and group of a file


Return Values
See Also


.Lb libc


.In unistd.h 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 int fchownat int fd const char *path uid_t owner gid_t group int flag


The owner ID and group ID of the file 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 super-user.

The chown system call 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 if not executed by the super-user. The chown system call follows symbolic links to operate on the target of the link rather than the link itself.

The fchown system call is particularly useful when used in conjunction with the file locking primitives (see flock(2)).

The lchown system call is similar to chown but does not follow symbolic links.

The fchownat system call is equivalent to the chown and lchown except in the case where path specifies a relative path. In this case the file to be changed is determined relative to the directory associated with the file descriptor fd instead of the current working directory.

Values for flag are constructed by a bitwise-inclusive OR of flags from the following list, defined in
.In fcntl.h :
  If path names a symbolic link, ownership of the symbolic link is changed.

If fchownat is passed the special value AT_FDCWD in the fd parameter, the current working directory is used and the behavior is identical to a call to chown or lchown respectively, depending on whether or not the AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW bit is set in the flag argument.

One of the owner or group id’s may be left unchanged by specifying it as -1.


.Rv -std


The chown and lchown will fail and the file will be unchanged if:
  A component of the path prefix is not a directory.
  A component of a pathname exceeded 255 characters, or an entire path name exceeded 1023 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 operation would change the ownership, but the effective user ID is not the super-user.
  The named file has its immutable or append-only flag set, see the chflags(2) manual page for more information.
  The named file resides on a read-only file system.
  The path argument points outside the process’s allocated address space.
[EIO] An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.

The fchown system call will fail if:
  The fd argument does not refer to a valid descriptor.
  The fd argument refers to a socket, not a file.
  The effective user ID is not the super-user.
  The named file resides on a read-only file system.
[EIO] An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.

In addition to the errors specified for chown and lchown, the fchownat system call may 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 searching.
  The value of the flag argument is not valid.
  The path argument is not an absolute path and fd is neither AT_FDCWD nor a file descriptor associated with a directory.


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


The chown system call is expected to conform to -p1003.1-90. The fchownat system call follows The Open Group Extended API Set 2 specification.


The chown function appeared in AT&T v7 . The fchown system call appeared in BSD 4.2 .

The chown system call was changed to follow symbolic links in BSD 4.4 . The lchown system call was added in
.Fx 3.0 to compensate for the loss of functionality.

The fchownat system call appeared in
.Fx 8.0 .

Search for    or go to Top of page |  Section 2 |  Main Index

Powered by GSP Visit the GSP FreeBSD Man Page Interface.
Output converted with manServer 1.07.