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I know what /usr/local is for - installing software for the local machine. By default, root owns the directory. This means that to install there, you need to use sudo. For a single-user or developer machine, this seems like unnecessary extra use of the command. Hence, my question - is it safe for me to own /usr/local?

For example, Homebrew for OS X "Just Works" because they own /usr/local and safely install their software there without the use of sudo.

Additionally, if you have locally compiled software installed to /usr/local, the software currently needs root to modify themselves or install plugins. This seems unsafe - I want to only use sudo when I know EXACTLY what will happen.


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up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is unusual that /usr/local isn't owned by root. But you can change the owner as you want.

But I advise to ensure that /usr/local/sbin is still owned by root to avoid a security problem. The commands here are usually invoked only by root.

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I did an install of bower earlier, and the tutorial suggested doing chown -R $USER /usr/local so I am now running chown -R root /usr/local/sbin - are there any other folders in /usr/local that would be better off with root ownership? I should have checked all permissions before running command. Instant "regret upon return". – OnethingSimple Feb 16 '15 at 13:56

If sudo is such an inconvenience then just update /etc/sudoers so you don't have to enter your password when you run sudo. I believe that is a better solution than changing the owner of /usr/local.

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Passwords aren't the issue - it's more the idea that to install modules to a program in /usr/local you have to use sudo, which is potentially dangerous. – PR3x Feb 26 '13 at 3:19

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