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I want to have a few folders on a partition whose contents I can freely edit, but outside nothing should be saved.

Specifically, I want the folders in my Home (Documents, Music, etc) on a different partition, but rest of the normally hidden folders remain in the main partition with Ubuntu. I can make the files within the Home folders save in another partition using fstab binding, but I still can't think of how to lock the partition from edits outside those folders. I'm open to suggestions of alternatives to binding - but please, no symbolic links.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Where do you want to prohibit write access - it's unclear. As user oxwivi you aren't allowed to write to /lib, /usr, /var, /bin and so on, but sudo needs write access for updates.

Or the configuration needs to changed in /etc.

And there are dynamic folders /proc /sys /dev , while logfiles are written to /var/log and so on ...

And every user needs write access to /tmp

(Edit after diskussion)

chmod a-w -R /partition
chmod u+w /partition/1 /partition/2
  • a-w means 'all (user, group, others) - := remove permission to w(rite).
  • -R means: recursively, for directories/files therein.
  • u+w := add write-permission for the user who is owner.

In front of +and-, you may use ugo for user, who is the owner, group and others (problem: confusion o?owner/other) or a for all. +- means to add or revoke permissions, = means to set them. rwx are acronyms for read, write and execute.

This are the mostly used ones. More details in man chmod.

chmod ug+rw foo.txt 

adds read-write permissions for user and group.

chmod o=x bar.txt 

sets the permission to execute for others.

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Let's say that /partition is the directory to the partition in question. I don't want anything to be able to be written except inside the folders named 1 and 2. So the only way I can write something to the partition is by saving inside /partition/1 and /partition/2 - nothing will be written directly to /partition/ directory. – Oxwivi Mar 3 '11 at 14:04
chmod a-w -R /partition, chmod u+w /partition/1 /partition/2 - where is the problem? – user unknown Mar 3 '11 at 14:28
@user unknown, the problem is that I did not know how to do it. And what's the difference between your commands and the ones in Amey's answer? There seems to be slight difference in the flags used. – Oxwivi Mar 4 '11 at 11:58
u=rwx means: for the user who is the owner, set the permissions to r(ead), w(rite) and (e)x(ecute). a-w means 'all (user, group, others) - := remove permission to w(rite). -R means: recursively, for directories/files therein. u+w := add write-permission for the user who is owner. – user unknown Mar 4 '11 at 19:46
@user unknown, please edit that into your answer - I don't want any users to read or write unlike the other answer. And will this permission setting affect live sessions? – Oxwivi Mar 5 '11 at 5:55

You can give write access to these two fonder only. Apart from that do no give write access. So that user will not able to write elsewhere.

I would suggest you to give write access to partition1/folder1 and folder2.

chmod u=rwx partition1/folder1
chmod u=rwx partition1/folder2

Then I would suggest you to remove write access to partition1 folder

chmod u=rx partition1

Now you can not create any thing inside partition1 but you will be able to write into partition1/folder1 and 2.

xyz@xyz-desktop:~$ ls -lart|grep test1
dr-xr-xr-x  4 xyz xyz   4096 2011-03-03 19:51 test1
xyz@xyz-desktop:~$ ls test1
test3  test4
xyz@xyz-desktop:~$ ls -lart test1
total 16
drwxr-xr-x 61 xyz xyz 4096 2011-03-03 19:49 ..
drwxr-xr-x  2 xyz xyz 4096 2011-03-03 19:51 test4
dr-xr-xr-x  4 xyz xyz 4096 2011-03-03 19:51 . 
drwxr-xr-x  2 xyz xyz 4096 2011-03-03 19:51 test3
xyz@xyz-desktop:~$ touch ./test1/willItCreate
touch: cannot touch `./test1/willItCreate': Permission denied
xyz@xyz-desktop:~$ touch ./test1/test3/willItCreate
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Will it affect Windows? – Oxwivi Mar 3 '11 at 16:34
Windows is not linux, so Windows won't really care about those permissions. – RolandiXor Mar 3 '11 at 20:03
@Roland, oh right, Windows won't even read ext filesystems in the first place. And next time you comment, please do tag @[user] or they'll miss the reply. And will the permission affect access from live sessions as well? – Oxwivi Mar 4 '11 at 11:59
@Oxwivi Unfortunately not, live sessions can access everything on the device, because in a simple way of putting it, the live session does not know who the users on the drives are, and doesn't pay much attention to them. – RolandiXor Mar 4 '11 at 18:53
@Roland, can it not be made to lock writing in the partition to all users? i.e. the lock does not specify any particular user, it's simply inaccessible to all. – Oxwivi Mar 4 '11 at 19:02

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