Understanding Red Hat File System Permissions

This is an overview of everything permissions based.

You will learn about

  • How to find permissions
  • File Permissions
  • Umask
  • Masking

How to find file and file system permissions

There are a number of different ways to find out file permissions in Linux.

Stat command

One of my favourite Linux commands is the stat command.

Stat – gives you detailed information about the file permissions.

There are a number of operator parameters to refine the stat command


display filesystem status instead of file status


use the specified FORMAT instead of the default


follow links


print the SELinux security context


print the information in terse form


output version information and exit

The LS command

Every Linux administrator has used this command before. It is used to list the contents of a directory, but it also displays a great number of information about permissions.

ls -l

Permissions are listed on the left side

The command gives you the read/write/execute permissions for the Owner / Group / Everyone. The permissions are given in the octal format.

Octal permissions

  • 4 = read
  • 2 = write
  • 1= execute
  • (add them up to get the octal value)


Sticky bit is a permission bit that is set on a file or a directory that lets only the owner of the file/directory or the root user to delete or rename the file.

Sticky bits are very useful on sFTP servers when multiple users have access to a files system. Files can be written to directory by anyone, but only the owner can remove the files.

The sticky bit is represented by a full stop (period) .

drwxrwxrwt. 14 root root 4096 Jan 22 07:24 /tmp


chmod is a command to change the permissions of a file. the command and system call which is used to change the access permissions of file system objects. It is also used to change special mode flags. The request is filtered by the umask. The name is an abbreviation of change mode.

chmod 754 myfile


The Chown command is used to change the owner/group of a file or folder.

Change the owner of a file

chown root testfile1

Change the group of a file

chown :wheel testfile2

Change owner and group of a file

chown rich.bailey:sysadim testfile3


Default permissions – When a file or directory is created it has to have some set of default permissions. Linux by default assigns Read and Write permissions on the user, group, and other sets, for files, but does not assign any execute permissions. Directories, however, get assigned Read, Write and Execute permissions to all sets by default

Masking – Default permissions are fine, but it would be tedious to change them for every new file created.

Masking directories – Directories are similar – we just add the execute bit into the default. Remember that directories need the execute bit so a user can navigate into the directory. 777 – default

Setting the mask can be done using the umask command. umask is not persistent. It can be set for a specific task in a script, meaning that all new files created during the script will have their permissions masked differently than the default.

Persistent Settings 

Two files – /etc/profile and /etc/bashrc control the umask settings for both interactive and login shells. Note that the method they do so contains a conditional statement – so root and other system accounts have a different umask from normal user accounts

RHCSA MiniSeries 

Part 1 – How to use Grep and Regular Expressions (RegEx)

Part 2 – How to manipulate files in RedHat

Part 3 – Red Hat Permissions

Part 4 – How to change the root password on Red Hat

Part 5 – How to use Red Hat as a virtual machine host

Part 6 – How to configure local storage

Part 7 – how to manage users and groups in Red Hat Linux

Part 8 – how to configure NTP Network Time Protocol in Red Hat

Elsewhere On TurboGeek:  What Linux Version or Distribution Am I Running?


Richard Bailey, a seasoned tech enthusiast, combines a passion for innovation with a knack for simplifying complex concepts. With over a decade in the industry, he's pioneered transformative solutions, blending creativity with technical prowess. An avid writer, Richard's articles resonate with readers, offering insightful perspectives that bridge the gap between technology and everyday life. His commitment to excellence and tireless pursuit of knowledge continues to inspire and shape the tech landscape.

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