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It appears I still miss some things about the way permissions work. I am on a debian 7 system btw. just now I have this file of which I downloaded and it belongs to myuser:myuser, that is both user and group are set to me. It also resides in my $HOME directory since that is where I downloaded it to.

So far so good. Now I want to share this file with some other users of the pc and for that I want to switch the group ownership of the file to group "users". however that fails:

nass@quarx:~/xmas_carol$ chgrp -R users * 
chgrp: changing group of movie.mov': Operation not permitted

And the contents of the folder are:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 nass nass 2482411461 Feb  6 03:57 movie.mov

I am fuzzy about what is going on with the permissions. Can someone explain

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is /xmas_carol samba/nfs mount ? –  Rahul Patil Feb 6 at 2:21
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Your user is probably not a member of the users group, so you don't have the right to give a file to that group. To illustrate:

$ groups
terdon sudo netdev fuse vboxsf vboxusers

$ ls -l file
-rw-r--r-- 1 terdon terdon 604 Feb  6 03:04 file
$ chgrp users file
chgrp: changing group of ‘file’: Operation not permitted
$ chgrp vboxusers file
$ ls -l file
-rw-r--r-- 1 terdon vboxusers 604 Feb  6 03:04 file

On Debian, you can only change the group ownership to groups that your user belongs to. This is not true of some other systems.

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It might be because the immutable bit is set. Get the list of file attributes running

lsattr /path/to/your/file

if i appears, then the immutable attribute is set and no one can modify the file (even root).

To remove the attribute you must run as root

chattr -i /path/to/your/file

To see more file system attributes read the man pages

man chattr
man lsattr
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