The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6
IEEE Std 1003.1, 2004 Edition
Copyright © 2001-2004 The IEEE and The Open Group, All Rights reserved.
A newer edition of this document exists here


lchown - change the owner and group of a symbolic link


[XSI] [Option Start] #include <unistd.h>

int lchown(const char *
path, uid_t owner, gid_t group); [Option End]


The lchown() function shall be equivalent to chown(), except in the case where the named file is a symbolic link. In this case, lchown() shall change the ownership of the symbolic link file itself, while chown() changes the ownership of the file or directory to which the symbolic link refers.


Upon successful completion, lchown() shall return 0. Otherwise, it shall return -1 and set errno to indicate an error.


The lchown() function shall fail if:

Search permission is denied on a component of the path prefix of path.
The owner or group ID is not a value supported by the implementation.
A loop exists in symbolic links encountered during resolution of the path argument.
The length of a pathname exceeds {PATH_MAX} or a pathname component is longer than {NAME_MAX}.
A component of path does not name an existing file or path is an empty string.
A component of the path prefix of path is not a directory.
The path argument names a symbolic link and the implementation does not support setting the owner or group of a symbolic link.
The effective user ID does not match the owner of the file and the process does not have appropriate privileges.
The file resides on a read-only file system.

The lchown() function may fail if:

An I/O error occurred while reading or writing to the file system.
A signal was caught during execution of the function.
More than {SYMLOOP_MAX} symbolic links were encountered during resolution of the path argument.
Pathname resolution of a symbolic link produced an intermediate result whose length exceeds {PATH_MAX}.

The following sections are informative.


Changing the Current Owner of a File

The following example shows how to change the ownership of the symbolic link named /modules/pass1 to the user ID associated with "jones" and the group ID associated with "cnd".

The numeric value for the user ID is obtained by using the getpwnam() function. The numeric value for the group ID is obtained by using the getgrnam() function.

#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <pwd.h>
#include <grp.h>

struct passwd *pwd; struct group *grp; char *path = "/modules/pass1"; ... pwd = getpwnam("jones"); grp = getgrnam("cnd"); lchown(path, pwd->pw_uid, grp->gr_gid);


On implementations which support symbolic links as directory entries rather than files, lchown() may fail.






chown(), symlink(), the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <unistd.h>


First released in Issue 4, Version 2.

Issue 5

Moved from X/OPEN UNIX extension to BASE.

Issue 6

The wording of the mandatory [ELOOP] error condition is updated, and a second optional [ELOOP] error condition is added.

The Open Group Base Resolution bwg2001-013 is applied, adding wording to the APPLICATION USAGE.

End of informative text.

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