Let’s take a closer look at the first column. As we said on the previous page, the first letter tells you whether you’re dealing with a regular file or a directory. The next letters tell the system what access is permitted for this file; hence the name “permissions.”
In the listing below, we’ve eliminated some columns and added spaces to the permissions column to make it easier to read.
- rwx r-xr-x joe acctg archive.sh - rw- rw-r-- joe acctg orgchart.gif - rw- rw-r-- joe acctg personnel.txt - rw- r--r-- joe acctg publicity.html d rwx rwxr-x joe acctg sales - rw- r----- joe acctg topsecret.inf - rwx r-xr-x joe acctg wordmatic
The first set three letters after the file type tell what you, the owner of the file, have permission to do.
An r in the first position means you are permitted to read the file. A w in the second position means you may write the file. This includes the ability to delete a file. An x in the third position means you may execute the file.
A hyphen in any position means that you don’t have that particular permission.
As you can see above,
joe, the user who owns the file, can
read and write all the files. He can execute the shell script
archive.sh and the program
But what’s the
x doing on the
When a directory has the
x set, this takes the special meaning of
“permitted to search this directory”.
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