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I just installed nemo and I am displaying the octal permission field. The permissions are things like 40755 and 100755. I am familiar with the last three digits (755) and I assume those are rwx permissions for owner, group and everyone else. What are the prefix permissions - the 40 and the 100 in my example?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

They are the file type. 10 is a fifo, and 40 is a directory. From man 2 stat:

   The following flags are defined for the st_mode field:

       S_IFMT     0170000   bit mask for the file type bit fields
       S_IFSOCK   0140000   socket
       S_IFLNK    0120000   symbolic link
       S_IFREG    0100000   regular file
       S_IFBLK    0060000   block device
       S_IFDIR    0040000   directory
       S_IFCHR    0020000   character device
       S_IFIFO    0010000   FIFO
       S_ISUID    0004000   set-user-ID bit
       S_ISGID    0002000   set-group-ID bit (see below)
       S_ISVTX    0001000   sticky bit (see below)
       S_IRWXU    00700     mask for file owner permissions
       S_IRUSR    00400     owner has read permission
       S_IWUSR    00200     owner has write permission
       S_IXUSR    00100     owner has execute permission
       S_IRWXG    00070     mask for group permissions
       S_IRGRP    00040     group has read permission
       S_IWGRP    00020     group has write permission
       S_IXGRP    00010     group has execute permission
       S_IRWXO    00007     mask for permissions for others (not in group)
       S_IROTH    00004     others have read permission
       S_IWOTH    00002     others have write permission
       S_IXOTH    00001     others have execute permission
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