In the properties menu of this folder the permission is set to "root" user and group, it shows the message "you are not the owner, so you cannot change these permissions." I am indeed the owner and only user of the machine, how can I change the permissions?

3 Answers 3

sudo chown -R username /path/to/directory

You must have sudo privileges though!

you should use -R option to operate on files and directories recursively

  • 1
    Please be careful suggesting that a user change the ownership of a file that belongs to root. It probably belongs to root for a good reason. Oct 21, 2012 at 21:48
  • he wanted to see what's in that folder, i told him how, though i agree with your suggestion. Oct 23, 2012 at 9:29
  • chown actually sets the permissions. To view the permissions you would use ls -l filename or ls -ld directory name. Oct 23, 2012 at 10:12
  • 1
    Dude i know what it does..Guess you missed this part from his question how can I change the permissions? Oct 23, 2012 at 18:13
  • No, I caught that. Apparently I miss read your comment about seeing the content of the folder, as seeing the ownership of the folder. My apologies Oct 24, 2012 at 0:12

This is not telling you that you don't own the computer on which the folder exists. It's telling you that you don't own the folder. This is a very different concept of ownership.

On your Ubuntu system, your user account doesn't automatically have the ability to perform any possible action--some administrative actions can only be performed by root, the superuser. However, this user is not any real person and, in Ubuntu, you don't log in as this user. Instead, Ubuntu provides facilities like sudo and gksu to perform actions as root.

You should check out the three links above. Once you've read that, if you still want to change the permissions on that folder, here's one way to do it:

  • Press Alt+F2.

  • Type in the command gksu nautilus and press Enter.

  • Now you have a file browser window running as root. You can change the permissions with this. Any program you open from this will run as root too. You should use this carefully and sparingly.

  • Make sure to close this root Nautilus window when you're done, so you don't accidentally use it for something that you don't need to be root to do.

Before you change the permissions (and/or ownership) on this folder, you should be aware that doing this to system files in Ubuntu can have negative consequences: you can make your system insecure...or even stop your system from working.

If these files have the wrong ownership/permissions because you brought them over from another system and did so as root (for example, if these are recovered documents), then go ahead.

But if these are systemwide configuration files, programs, or you're not sure what they are but you're trying to follow instructions that tell you to do something with them ...then you'll be much better off to ask specifically about them. You can edit your question or post a new question to ask if it would be safe for you to change ownership/permissions for this specific folder (provided that you can disclose what this folder is and what you are trying to accomplish).


You need admin privileges to accomplish that. RootSudo

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