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?

  • 4
    Unix philosophy: One tool to do one thing. Make a simple and work. Not complex.
    – SailorCire
    Oct 29, 2014 at 17:12
  • 11
    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. Oct 29, 2014 at 17:19
  • chown :groupname works fine for me.
    – Old Geezer
    Feb 24, 2018 at 7:34

2 Answers 2


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.



  • 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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