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For some reason I can't change the file permissions of my var/www folder or anything else inside it. I've tried using gksu-nautilus to change the permissions but it doesn't work. When I open the properties window, and select a different level of permission for myself, it instantly switches back to the previous setting.

Any idea of how to fix this?

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what happens if you changed file permission from the command line? – Lie Ryan Jun 6 '11 at 18:20
Read my anwser, comment it. I also had problems with nautilus, maybe a bug, or not the right permission. – antivirtel Jun 6 '11 at 18:25
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use commands, from terminal. Ctrl + Alt + T by default, but you can find it in GNOME menu.

So open that terminal, and type:

sudo chmod 775 FILE(S) - for folders, use recursive option: sudo chmod 775 DIR(S) -R

The numbers are from the permissions: 7 means rwx(read, write, execute), 5 r-x(read, execute), 6 rw- (read, write).

The tree number combination is: ogx (owner, group, everyone).

To change group an owner, use:

sudo chown OWNER:GROUP FILE/FORDER -R eg. owner: root, group:users; (R=recursive)

To change group only, use:

sudo chgrp GROUP FILE/FOLDER -R ... same thing...

Please read the manual pages of these programes: man chmod chown chgrp - for more details.

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You said "the permissions switch instantly back". What about "the permissions did not get applied"?

If you've a separate /var/www partition formatted FAT or NTFS, you need to reformat your partition as those filesystems do not support Linux file permissions.

Backup your files and re-format the partition as ext4. Next, copy the files back and restore the permissions and ownerships:

sudo chown -R 0:0 /var/www
sudo find /var/www -type f -exec chmod 640 {} \;  # files
sudo find /var/www -type d -exec chmod 750 {} \;  # directories

The 640 and 750 in the last two commands can be changed of course.

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the problem is precisely because of the file system. Copy the things to a native linux partition ext2,3 or 4 and then check for change in file permission. – Vineet Menon Oct 8 '11 at 5:24

Just change the owner of the folder by opening a terminal and:

sudo chown myUsername:myUsername -R /var/www

Where myUsername is your username

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