I am relatively knew to Ubuntu and I want to learn about the chown command, so I tried to read the man chown but I find it very difficult to understand. Is there a document for this that is simpler and easier to understand?

  • 2
    You might be interested in reading askubuntu.com/q/918379/295286 for basics. Jul 17 '18 at 7:30
  • 6
    Actually I'd like to encourage you to try to understand the man page. It needs some getting used to, but the format is uniform. A few hints: rectangular brackets in the synopsis indicate optional items. These can be nested. E.g. [OWNER][:[GROUP]] means that you can omit owner or :[group] or both or none; the brackets in :[group] indicate that you can omit the actual group; the description explains what happens then (" If a colon but no group name follows the user name, [...] the group of the files is changed to that user's login group." Jul 17 '18 at 16:57
  • 1
    But then I didn't know about the tldr project Nykakin mentions in his answer. Awesome, even for more experienced users, because it just covers 90% of your daily use cases. Some man pages (e.g. for find) include examples but many which would profit from some don't, at least on my cygwin here (e.g. tar). Jul 17 '18 at 17:00
  • Online versions can be found which sometimes are tweaked a bit e.g. ss64.com/bash/chown.html . ss64.com/bash/chmod.html is is especially helpful for new users as it has a nice little tick box calculator for using the numeric options.
    – Wilf
    Jul 18 '18 at 14:23

Actually there is such documentation. Open a command line terminal - CtrlAltT and enter:

info chown

you will find this document uses less technical terms and phrasing, and explains the command in a more "conversational" manner. It is therefore easier to read and understand for beginner users.

After reading the info page I recommend familiarizing yourself with the man page for chown, because the man pages tend to be more succinct and complete.

  • 3
    info chown takes you to the documentation of the libc function. info coreutils chown takes you to the command's documentation. Though maybe it's different because I'm running Arch.
    – JoL
    Jul 17 '18 at 18:25
  • 5
    @JoL It's not the case for Ubuntu 18.04 - the answer is correct.
    – kubanczyk
    Jul 17 '18 at 19:50

I suggest installing tldr project:

$ tldr chown
# chown                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

  Change user and group ownership of files and folders.                                                                                                                                                                                       

- Change the owner user of a file/folder:                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  chown user path/to/file                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

- Change the owner user and group of a file/folder:                                                                                                                                                                                           

  chown user:group path/to/file                                                                                                                                                                                                               

- Recursively change the owner of a folder and its contents:                                                                                                                                                                                  

  chown -R user path/to/folder                                                                                                                                                                                                                

- Change the owner of a symbolic link:                                                                                                                                                                                                        

  chown -h user path/to/symlink                                                                                                                                                                                                               

- Change the owner of a file/folder to match a reference file:                                                                                                                                                                                

  chown --reference=path/to/reference_file path/to/file      
  • Wanted to post same answer; I got this from dev.to srticle; also can be installed on Mac (brew install tldr).
    – Kyslik
    Jul 18 '18 at 6:41

Not supposed to post link only answers (for which I apologise) but I think this link might be what you are looking for as it explains things in simple detail with examples.

  • 4
    Link-only answers are acceptable if the entire point of the question is to find documentation ("the linked resource contains the answer" vs. "this linked resource is the answer"). We don't require or want those to be cited in-line. ;-] Jul 17 '18 at 9:44
  • @DavidFoerster: Still, there's a reasonable chance that this answer will be useless in a few months or years. Jul 19 '18 at 7:30

I love the linux today tutorials. Just google linux today and command you are looking for. Most common commands have articles.


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