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If a User A owns file.txt, can User A change the ownership of the file to User B without root access? When i run a chown B file.txt as user A, I get a Operation not permitted error. It seems to me that since User A owns the file, they ought to be able to change the ownership, but I don't see a way to do it. Thanks for the help!

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You could put incriminating data in a file and change its ownership to frame someone :) I guess that's one argument against allowing what you suggest. – roadmr Jan 16 '12 at 16:40
Small addition: AFAIU you can change the owning group of a file that you own, provided that you're a member of the group you're changing to. – Matthijs Kooijman Jun 20 '14 at 13:29
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If the User A owns file.txt, he cannot change the ownership of the file.txt without root access/sudo permission. This is a feature and not a bug. And one of the many reasons why the elders chose to put this feature in, has been explained in a comment to your question by roadmr

Bottom-line: You can change the permissions of the file using chmod if you are the owner of that file without root/sudo permissions but you cannot change the ownership, either user or group (using either chown or chgrp ), of a file even though you are the owner of the file without root/sudo permissions. This is a feature and not a bug.

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Part of this wrong. Non-root users can change the group other groups they are a member of. Try touch t; ls -l t; chgrp lpadmin t; ls -l t (Assuming you are in the lpadmin group). See also my answer and linked question. – Mark Stosberg Jun 1 at 17:47

No, you cannot change the owner a file without access, but if you own the file, you can change the permissions of the file with chmod and may change the group with chgrp to another group you a member of.

Related Question: chown is allowed to non root user?

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