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What is the difference between chmod u+x and just chmod +x? I have seen a ton of tutorials that say to use u+x to make scripts executable. However, the u is not mentioned in the chmod help or manual. Omitting the u doesn't seem to have any effect either. Is it just a deprecated argument? Thanks.

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up vote 78 down vote accepted

The man page of chmod covers that.

  • u stands for user.
  • g stands for group.
  • o stands for others.
  • a stands for all.

That means that chmod u+x somefile will grant only the owner of that file execution permissions whereas chmod +x somefile is the same as chmod a+x somefile.

The chmod man page says:

The format of a symbolic mode is [ugoa...][[+-=][rwxXstugo...]...][,...]. Multiple symbolic operations can be given, separated by commas.

A combination of the letters 'ugoa' controls which users' access to the file will be changed: the user who owns it (u), other users in the file's group (g), other users not in the file's group (o), or all users (a). If none of these are given, the effect is as if 'a' were given, but bits that are set in the umask are not affected.

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I have a little question, what is the difference between a+x and let's say 111. It makes both executable – TheBro21 May 31 '15 at 12:56
That is because 1 is the octal notation which stands for the execute permission. 111 means executable for user, group and other. – Octavian Damiean Jun 23 '15 at 18:47

Just doing +x will apply it to all flags: [u]ser, [g]roup, [o]thers.

Type man chmod for more information.

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I promise I checked the manual first but didn't see it since I skipped the description and jumped down to the options. I see them now though :-) – schwiz Mar 8 '11 at 23:41

chmod u+x will made the file executable for your user (it will only add it for your user, though it may be already executable by the group owner, or "other").

chmod +x or chmod a+x ('all plus executable bit') makes the file executable by everyone.

If you do this to a directory, it makes the directory searchable, instead. I.e., you can list the contents of a directory that you have +x permission on.

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sorry but this thing too not worked for me. I have tried it with sudo and not got it worked on my computer. – Gupta Anirudha Aug 20 '12 at 18:39
@AnkitGupta I'm not sure what you're saying. My comment wasn't intended to fix a problem in a different Q&A. Try asking for clarification to answers there instead. Edit your question to say what you've tried. Show the output. – belacqua Aug 20 '12 at 19:00

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