Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Every time I want to paste or add a file to the root folder it says i'm not the owner and I don't have the privlidges of putting it there. It makes me really mad.

share|improve this question
Since this question has become, in effect, about why you cannot put files in / without being root, if you want an explanation of how to "safely" configure your system to let you put your files in /, you might want to either (1) edit this question or (2) post a new one. You should probably explain why you want to put files in /, though, so that (a) we don't waste time asking you, and (b) we can provide alternatives (since there are not many situations where it really makes sense to put your files directly in /). –  Eliah Kagan Jun 30 '12 at 17:49

2 Answers 2

  • Why would you want to copy/paste a file into /?
  • You as a user do not own anything owned by root.
  • You need to put sudo in front of what you are doing if the location you want to put it is owned by root and if you are a sudo-user (ie. at least the user you used to install Ubuntu is a sudo-user.
  • But 1st anwser question 1: there should be NO need to put files into /. Except for /forcecheck ;)

Linux is a multi user system. Windows is a single user system. When more than 1 person can use a system you need this kind of security otherwise you can not store any private data on a system.

share|improve this answer
I don't know I just don't understand why it wouldn't let me be able to. In Windows it does. I just don't see the point of it being like that. –  Daniel Perez Jun 23 '12 at 21:52
@DanielPerez that is why Linux does not have any virusses worth mentioning. Windows is seriously flawed in that regard (well the home version that is ;) ) –  Rinzwind Jun 24 '12 at 7:30
@Rinzwind That's not a plausible explanation for why Linux-based OSes have less malware. While making / a sticky directory isn't particularly advisable because it goes against reasonable assumptions about where things are stored in a Unix-style filesystem hierarchy, that method (which would provide an experience similar to Windows) wouldn't actually make the system more susceptible to attacks. Also, Windows is not a single-user system. Every version of Windows based on Windows NT, including XP, Vista, and Windows 7, and every edition of them (including "Home" editions), are multiuser. –  Eliah Kagan Jun 30 '12 at 17:42
No Windows Home version is single user abused as a multi user system and internet usage. ANYONE can view ANY document even when you use 2 separate users on 1 system. You just got to know how. –  Rinzwind Jun 30 '12 at 18:26
@EliahKagan it is for the ones that target deleting system files. –  Mateo_ Jun 30 '12 at 20:21

Short answer is that Linux is a multi-user operating system, and your account is only one of the users. You, as a single human, can have multiple accounts, but each one is separate, including root, who is a super user (but you don't want to ever run under this account except temporarily for system maintenance). You are only the owner of your home directory.

One of the shortcomings of earlier Windows systems was that it mainly assumed single user, and this single user was usually the administrator. It was possible to not run as administrator, but it was very inconvenient, and many things simply did not work; there was no easy way to temporarily become administrator. But administrators had the authority to install viruses, and other malware. If you can run Windows from a "normal" user privilege level, like on Linux, you probably would get very little in the way of malware.

Linux gives you the ability to temporarily run a program or perform an operation as root. Sometimes this is necessary, but should be used as little as possible. In the old days, the admin would log on as root, do some administrative tasks, and then log off the root account. But this had problems, in that the admin might get lazy and simply log on as root right off, or forget to log off and do damage, so modern systems have a more temporary way for normal users to obtain the elevated root privileges - using sudo. Even though it seems like more trouble, it becomes second nature, and helps protect you from inadvertent mistakes by making you think more about the fact that you are doing something possibly destructive when you use it.

When you install or run programs as root, these programs can in turn access directories that are owned by root, such as /etc for configuration files. If you don't install them as root, they cannot do this

Some directories are owned by root, but have privileges set such that anyone can write to it, such as /tmp. If you look at the permissions of /tmp you will see that everyone has permission to read and write to it, although only root and certain group members can delete a file that they do not either own or have write permission to (the "t" instead of x for all users).

share|improve this answer
You may want to edit this to explain why users can, by default, put files in some directories that they do not own (like /tmp). –  Eliah Kagan Jun 30 '12 at 17:52
OK, I expanded it a bit - hope it's helpful to someone. I actually learned something new - the "t" bit that prevents someone from deleting a file they do not own or have write premissions for. –  Marty Fried Jun 30 '12 at 18:30

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.