CHOWN(8) BSD System Manager's Manual CHOWN(8)
chown -- change file owner and group
chown [-fhv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] owner[:group] file ...
chown [-fhv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] :group file ...
The chown utility changes the user ID and/or the group ID of the speci-
fied files. Symbolic links named by arguments are silently left
unchanged unless -h is used.
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.
This is the default.
-R Change the user ID and/or the group ID of the specified directory
trees (recursively, including their contents) and files. Beware
of unintentionally matching the ``..'' hard link to the parent
directory when using wildcards like ``.*''.
-f Don't report any failure to change file owner or group, nor mod-
ify the exit status to reflect such failures.
-h If the file is a symbolic link, change the user ID and/or the
group ID of the link itself.
-v Cause chown to be verbose, showing files as the owner is modi-
fied. If the -v flag is specified more than once, chown will
print the filename, followed by the old and new numeric
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 owner and group operands are both optional, however, one must be
specified. If the group operand is specified, it must be preceded by a
colon (``:'') character.
The owner may be either a numeric user ID or a user name. If a user name
is also a numeric user ID, the operand is used as a user name. The group
may be either a numeric group ID or a group name. If a group name is
also a numeric group ID, the operand is used as a group name.
The ownership of a file may only be altered by a super-user for obvious
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.
On previous versions of this system, symbolic links did not have owners.
The -v option is non-standard and its use in scripts is not recommended.
chgrp(1), find(1), chown(2), fts(3), symlink(7)
The chown utility is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'') compli-
A chown utility appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
BSD April 25, 2003 BSD