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Change ownership (chown) on a symbolic link

  • Jun 14 / 2017
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Linux

Change ownership (chown) on a symbolic link

You already probably noticed that if you want to update the ownership of a symbolic link on any UNIX system, a simple chown won’t do the job.

Indeed, let’s suppose you have this:

8 lrwxr-xr-x   1 user1            group1         4 Jun 13 23:46 link -> test 
8 -rw-r--r--   1 user1            group1         6 Jun 13 23:54 test

If you’re doing a simple chown:

chown user2:group2 link

You can see that it changes the ownership on the target file and not on the symbolic link:

8 lrwxr-xr-x   1 user1            group1         4 Jun 13 23:46 link -> test 
8 -rw-r--r--   1 user2            group2         6 Jun 13 23:54 test

If you want to update the symbolic link, you need to use the -h or –no-dereference option to apply the changes on the symbolic link and not on the target:

chown -h user2:group2 link

Then, you can see that it’s now updated:

8 lrwxr-xr-x   1 user2            group2         4 Jun 13 23:46 link -> test 
8 -rw-r--r--   1 user2            group2         6 Jun 13 23:54 test

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