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I've recently installed Ubuntu 11.10 on my laptop, but I can't do anything with my 1.5TB external drive, and my 500GB because I don't have write permission. Are there any specific commands I can use in the terminal to set the read/write permissions?

The external is NTFS, and the 500GB is ext4.

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your external hard drive has which file system ? ext4 , ntfs ? –  One Zero Dec 25 '11 at 10:21
if it is a ntfs drive then this Q&A should work: askubuntu.com/questions/14863/… –  fossfreedom Dec 25 '11 at 10:22
The external is NTFS, and the 500GB is ext4. –  Solarton Dec 25 '11 at 10:51

4 Answers 4

If you don't mind the security problems you can do a recursive chmod in order to change the permissions of all the files.

cd /media/your_external_drive
sudo chmod -R -v 777 *

Also if your files were created in another OS like windows they will have different ownership you can do the same as above to change the ownership of the files

cd /media/your_external_drive
sudo chown -R -v your_username:your_username *

Thats the way I solved a similar problem for my friend after migrating from windows and also after migrating from Linux Mint to Ubuntu.

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I used this after formatting an old hard drive using GParted. –  johntait.org Jan 1 '14 at 2:48

I was having a hard time solving the problem and this solution worked for me

  1. install physical storage device manger:

    sudo apt-get install pysdm 
  2. Open storage device manger:

    sudo pysdm 
  3. Choose your required drives

  4. Press assist
  5. Uncheck open as read only
  6. Check owner user of file system and write your username
  7. Press ok and apply
  8. Remount the drive

Note: if you can't change files to binary executables, go to special files and check permit execution of files as binaries, and go to step 7

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i installed pysdm before. Today, after a year or so i am trying to install pysdm again. I am getting Unable to locate package pysdm –  syedrakib Apr 16 '13 at 6:02
Same here. It must not be available anymore. –  Michael Dorst Mar 5 at 17:33

To fix read/write issue ntfs

just install these packages

sudo apt-get install ntfs-config ntfs-3g

when installed, run in the dash, the 'ntfs-config' give your password when prompted, and enjoy read/write support for ntfs

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this fixed my problem in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS –  psychok7 Apr 27 '14 at 22:11

for your 500 GB hard-drive (ext4) filesystem, you need to give the write and execute permission on / partition:-

sudo chmod ugo+wx /

Brief Explanation:-

sudo :- it will elevate your priviledges to execute the command.

chmod:- command to change the permissions

u :- user

g:- group

o :- other

/ :- partition

For your NTFS partition please follow fossfreedom's advice.

Hope this is helpful.

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