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WikiProject Free Software / Software / Computing  (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
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Really need to write in the third person for encyclopedia style. Jdavidb 05:32, 27 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I removed the example entirely. I don't think a Unix tutorial really belongs here, and the concept of changing a file's ownership isn't really that complicated. Kate | Talk 10:47, 2004 Aug 21 (UTC)
Then the whole lot become Totally Useless. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:30, 12 November 2016 (UTC)


The chown of AT&T System V Unix permitted any user to chown their own files, just as it permitted any user to chmod their own files. This was considered entirely normal and proper. This article should not presume that all versions of chown limit usage to root, or imply that such a limit is natural.

  • The claim "Because chown modifies permissions, it usually requires root privilege to run" is a false explanation, as chmod also "modifies permissions", but chmod has always worked for non-root users working with their own files. If the article wants to justify the root-only behavior, it will need a better explanation. (I have not edited the article because I do not agree with, and do not wish to justify, that behavior.)
  • The earlier Bell Labs Seventh Edition Unix did not permit non-root users to chown their own files, but the reason was to simplify a planned disk-space accounting package that was never actually developed. In 2011, it's laughable that a user's ability to manage his own files would be permanently restricted based on the possibility that he might be billed for disk space rental on his own Linux personal computer.
  • AT&T System III permitted ordinary users to chown their own files.
  • Berkeley Unix reinstated the root-only restriction, but for reasons which are obscure, and which may again be related to disk space accounting, as BSD was the version which introduced disk quotas. If anyone can find the true rationale documented, from a reliable Berkeley source, it would be a useful reference for this article.
  • POSIX makes the root/non-root behavior configurable via parameter POSIX_CHOWN_RESTRICTED.

There have been multiple changes in chown / multiple versions of chown since Bell Labs Unix, affecting details such as the form of user and group names it accepts or whether it follows symbolic links. If anyone has the time and inclination, a table of chown behavior vs. Unix/Linux flavor would be a nice addition. (talk) 22:19, 9 December 2011 (UTC)


Is there really a need to have an image of a terminal viewing the manual page for chown? SteveJothen 16:22, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Agreed. It looks silly, and the thumbnail is entirely useless as the text is not readable. (talk) 06:12, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I removed the image. -- Unixguy (talk) 18:41, 3 February 2009 (UTC)


chown -R us base = All your base is belong to us. Nice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

you mean "chown -R us /.base", i believe. :370.240.76.225 (talk) 03:10, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

agreed - awesomest (I just made that up) Wikipedia example. Ever =) -- (talk) 12:45, 28 September 2009 (UTC)