Linux CHOWN command is used to change the owner or/and group of any file or directory. Linux Chown command has the capability to define ownership of any file or directory. Some interesting usage of Linux CHOWN command is 

  • If only owner is provided with CHOWN command than only owner of the file is changes without changing the group of the file.
  • To change both owner as well as group of the file, we need to provide owner and group separated by colon.
  • If only colon group name is provided than it will only change the group of the file and will act like CHGRP command.
  • If only owner name followed by colon is present, than the owner will be updated with the user and group will be updated by group's name.
  • If only colon is present than not owner will get change and not the group of that file.

Also have a look at CHMOD, CHGRP commands in our earlier posts.


chown [OPTION]... [OWNER][:[GROUP]] FILE...


The following options modify how a hierarchy is traversed when the -R option is also specified. If more than one is specified, only the final one takes effect.

-c, --changes like verbose but report only when a change is made
-f, --silent, --quiet suppress most error messages
-v, --verbose output a diagnostic for every file processed
--dereference affect the referent of each symbolic link (this is the default), rather than the symbolic link itself
-h, --no-dereference affect symbolic links instead of any referenced file (useful only on systems that can change the ownership of a symlink)
--from=CURRENT_OWNER:CURRENT_GROUP change the owner and/or group of each file only if its current owner and/or group match those specified here. Either may be omitted, in which case a match is not required for the omitted attribute
--no-preserve-root do not treat '/' specially (the default)
--preserve-root fail to operate recursively on '/'
--reference=RFILE use RFILE's owner and group rather than specifying OWNER:GROUP values
-R, --recursive operate on files and directories recursively
-H if a command line argument is a symbolic link to a directory, traverse it
-L traverse every symbolic link to a directory encountered
-P do not traverse any symbolic links (default)
--help display this help and exit
--version output version information and exit


How to change the owner of a file?

To change the owner of a file the CHOWN command is

CHOWN abc-user ./file.xml

How to change the owner as well as group of a file?

To change the owner and the group of the file the CHOWN command is 

CHOWN abc-user:xyz-group ./file.xml

How to recursively change owner of all the files and directories inside another directory?

To change the owner recursively use "-r"

CHOWN -r abc-user ./dir/*

This article is contributed by Ankur Rastogi on Sun Apr 17 2016 10:13:02 GMT+0530 (IST)

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