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Understanding Linux Permission Attributes

Decoding Permission Attributes: A Detailed Table

Here's a table to help you understand various combinations of permission attributes, starting from simple to more complex:

Permission AttributeTypeOwner PermissionsGroup PermissionsEverybody PermissionsDescription
-rw-------FilerwOnly the owner can read and write the file. No other user can do anything with it.
drwx------DirectoryrwxOnly the owner can read, write, and execute (i.e., enter and list the directory).
-rw-r--r--FilerwrrThe owner can read and write the file. The group and others can only read it.
drwxr-xr-xDirectoryrwxrxrxThe owner has full permissions, whereas the group and others can read and execute (i.e., list and enter).
-rwxr-xr-xFilerwxrxrxThe owner can read, write, and execute the file. The group and others can read and execute.
lrwxrwxrwxLinkrwxrwxrwxThis is a symbolic link, and all users have read, write, and execute permissions.
-rw-r-----FilerwrThe owner can read and write, the group can read, and others have no permission.
drwxrwx---DirectoryrwxrwxThe owner and the group have full permissions, but others cannot access the directory at all.
-rwxr-x---FilerwxrxThe owner can read, write, and execute, whereas the group can only read and execute the file.
crw-rw----Char DevrwrwCharacter device file with read and write permission for owner and group only.
brw-r-----Block DevrwrBlock device file with read and write permission for owner and read for the group.
-rwsr-xr-xFilerwsrxrxThe owner has SUID bit set, meaning the commands run as the owner and not the invoker.
drwxrwsr-xDirectoryrwxrwsrxThe owner and group have full permissions. The 's' signifies that the SGID bit is set.
drwxr-xr-tDirectoryrwxrxrtThe 't' is the sticky bit, which means only the file's owner or root can delete or modify the files.


  • Type: d (Directory), - (File), l (Link), c (Character Device), b (Block Device)
  • Permissions: r (Read), w (Write), x (Execute), s (SetUID or SetGID), t (Sticky Bit)

How to Read These Attributes

Reading these attributes is straightforward once you understand the order:

  1. First Character: Identifies the type (d for directories, - for regular files, l for symbolic links, c for character devices, b for block devices).

  2. Next 9 Characters: Split into three triads, each representing read (r), write (w), and execute (x) permissions for the owner, the group, and others, respectively.

  3. Special Flags: s and t are special permissions. s stands for " SetUID" or "SetGID," while t is the "Sticky Bit."

By understanding this table and the composition of permission attributes, you can better navigate the Linux filesystem, set appropriate permissions, and enhance the security of your system.

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