Richacls is a Linux implementation of the NFSv4 ACLs which has been extended by file masks to more easily fit the standard POSIX file permission model. Nowadays, they offer the most complex permission model for ext4 file system in Linux operating system. They are even more complex than POSIX ACLs, which means it is not possible to convert back from Richacls to POSIX ACLs without losing information. One of the most important advantages is that they distinguish between write and append permission, between delete and delete child permissions, and make ACL management access discretionary (as opposed to only being only root and the file owner). They are also designed to support Windows interoperability.
Richacls use ext4 extended attributes (xattrs) to store ACLs. Entries in ACL are called ACE (Access Control List Entry).
Support in the Linux Kernel
There is still no support for Richacls in recent version of official Linux kernel (vanilla sources). Thus in order to get richacl work it is necessary to do one of the following:
- apply an additional kernel patch and compile own kernel. The patch is available at project homepage;
- use some Linux distribution which has included this patch. For example OpenSUSE version 11.3 and above.
To verify whether your system has compatibility for Richacls, in most cases you can simply type the following command to system console:
grep RICHACL /boot/config-`uname -r`
The output should be such:
Once you have running Richacls support on your system, you can enable them up on certain file system. Following example shows how to enable Richacls on root filesystem.
$mount -o remount,richacl /
The verification can be done in such way:
$mount | grep " / "
and the output should show Richacls enabled:
/dev/sda1 on / type ext4 (rw,richacl)
Richacls can be also enabled permanently by adding richacl parameter to certain mount entry in /etc/fstab.
Manipulating with ACLs
Richacl manipulation tools
For manipulation with Richacl entries there is utility called richacl, which is also available at project homepage. This tool can perform several basic operations for specific file or directory such is:
- show ACL
- set ACL
- modify individual ACEs
- remove ACL
- show current permissions of certain user or group
Format of Richacl ACEs
Format of each ACL entry (ACE) corresponds to <who>:<permission mask>:<flags>:<type>.
Where values of <who> can be:
- certain user ID or group ID
Values with @ symbol are used to defining permissions for owner, owning group and others.
To define value of <permission mask>, there are 16 permission bits (according to NFSv4 resp. NFSv4.1 specification) but five of them are not implemented. The meaning of each bit is described in the following table.
|bit name||short symbol||description|
|READ_DATA||r||Read data from a file|
|WRITE_DATA||w||Write data to a file|
|APPEND_DATA||a||Write to a file in O_APPEND mode|
|LIST_DIRECTORY||r||Read the contents of a directory|
|ADD_FILE||a||Create a file object in a directory|
|ADD_SUBDIRECTORY||a||Create a directory in a directory|
|DELETE_CHILD||d||Delete a file or subdirectory from a directory|
|EXECUTE||x||Execute File, Traverse a directory|
|DELETE||D||Delete the file itself, without DELETE_CHILD on
|READ_ATTRIBUTES||T||Read the stat() information for an object
|WRITE_ATTRIBUTES||t||Set the atime/mtime on an object|
|READ_ACL||M||Read the ACL of an object
|WRITE_ACL||m||Set the ACL and POSIX mode of an object|
|WRITE_OWNER||o||Take ownership of an object.
Set owning group of an object to one of our gid
|SYNCHRONIZE||Stored but not interpreted|
The value of <flags> can consist of following:
|flag name||flag symbol||description|
|FILE_INHERIT_ACE||f||New files will inherit this ACE|
|DIRECTORY_INHERIT_ACE||d||New directories will inherit this ACE|
|IDENTIFIER_GROUP||g||Given <who> ID is group|
Value of <type> are ALLOW or DENY. NFSv4 specification uses also AUDIT and ALARM ACE type, but these are accepted and stored, but not implemented in Richacls.
DENY ACE type has higher priority.
$ richacl --get /srv/files/exchange /srv/files/exchange: owner@:rwa-dtD------:fd:allow owner@:---x---------:d:allow powerusers:rwa----------:fdg:allow powerusers:---x---------:dg:allow storageadmins:rwa-dtDmo----:fdg:allow storageadmins:---x---------:dg:allow
Example above defines such permission policy, that each user in group powerusers can read, write and append files in /srv/files/exchange/ and subdirectories.
Moreover, users in powerusers group can delete their own files and directories (and their content).
Except this, users of group storageadmins can manipulate with data arbitrarily. They can also modify ACLs.
Other users have no access to given directory at all.
This permission model is unrealizable by using POSIX ACLs, even with sticky bit, because of necessary inheritance.