I know what chgrp and chown do.
My question is since chown does the same thing as chgrp (and even more), what is the point of chgrp?

  • 3
    Unix philosophy: One tool to do one thing. Make a simple and work. Not complex. – SailorCire Oct 29 '14 at 17:12
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    Historically, the chown command accepted only a new owner, or maybe owner[:group]. You couldn't say just chown :groupname, so the chgrp command was necessary. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Oct 29 '14 at 17:19
  • chown :groupname works fine for me. – Old Geezer Feb 24 '18 at 7:34

When you use chgrp you are using a simple tool to change one thing... group permissions. For many people this is preferred over using chown, especially when you run the risk of mistyping a character while using the chown command and completely breaking permissions to whatever files/folder you specified.

So instead of doing one of the following:

chown user:group [file/dir]
chown :group [file/dir]

You just do:

chgrp group [file/dir]

This keeps the risks of changing file permissions in a production grade environment down. Which is always good for SysAdmins.

| improve this answer | |


  • A file is owned by exactly one group and one user. That file may have varying permissions depending on the user and/or group attempting to use it.
  • chown changes ownership of files to specified user/group
  • chmod changes permissions of files to specified user/group
  • chgrp changes ownership of files to specified group
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