Skip to main content

Understanding the `chown` Command in Linux

The chown command in Linux is a powerful utility for changing the owner or the group associated with a file or a directory. This article will delve into the chown command, its syntax, various options, and examples to provide a comprehensive guide.


The basic syntax of the chown command is as follows:

  • OWNER: The username or the numeric user ID of the new owner.
  • GROUP: The name or numeric ID of the new group.
  • FILE: The name of the file or directory whose owner/group you want to change.


--recursive-ROperate on files and directories recursively.
--dereference-LAffect the referent of each symbolic link.
--no-dereference-hAffect symbolic links instead of any referenced file.
--from=CURRENT_OWNER:CURRENT_GROUPN/AChange the owner and/or group of each file only if its current owner and/or group match those specified.
--quiet-f or --silentSuppress most error messages.
--verbose-vOutput a diagnostic for every file processed.

Creating Example Users and Files

Before diving into examples, let's create a couple of users and a sample text file. You can run these commands to set up your environment:

# Create new users
sudo useradd alice
sudo useradd bob

# Create a sample text file
echo "This is a sample file." > sample.txt

Basic Examples

  1. Change the Owner of a File

    sudo chown alice sample.txt

    This command changes the ownership of sample.txt to the user alice.

  2. Change the Group of a File

    sudo chown :alice sample.txt

    This command changes the group of sample.txt to alice.

  3. Change Both the Owner and the Group

    sudo chown alice:alice sample.txt

    This changes both the owner and the group of sample.txt to alice.

  4. Use with Options

    sudo chown -R alice:alice /path/to/directory

    This command will recursively change the owner and group for /path/to/directory and all files within it to alice.

Advanced Examples

  1. Use with --from Option

    sudo chown --from=bob alice sample.txt

    This changes the owner from bob to alice only if the current owner is bob.

  2. Verbose Output

    sudo chown -v alice:alice sample.txt

    This will provide a verbose output for the operation.


The chown command is an essential utility for managing file and directory ownership in a Linux system. With its various options and the ability to handle multiple files and directories at once, chown is versatile and crucial for Linux system administration.

What Can You Do Next 🙏😊

If you liked the article, consider subscribing to Cloudaffle, my YouTube Channel, where I keep posting in-depth tutorials and all edutainment stuff for software developers.

YouTube @cloudaffle