I think prevent home folder from deleting is a very good idea. So I search possible approaches to do that. I that's what I’m find:

  1. Use chattr +i /home/user - even root can't can add/delete/rename user folder and all direct children in user - good and bad.
  2. Change owner of user directory to root and set sticky bit. Add file .keep and change his owner to root too:

    chown root:user /home/user
    chmod 1775 /home/user
    chown root /home/user/.keep 

    root can delete /home/user, user can't. But user can freely add/remove/rename files in his directory

  3. Use chattr +a /home/user - same as first approach but user can add files.

I think chattr +a on home directory: chattr +a /home is the best way:

  1. We can create new home folders for other users without pain.
  2. We can freely edit files in /home/user
  3. We can't accidentally sudo rm -rf /home/user

Actually the question: what are the pitfalls of this approach?

  • Why all that complication in (2)? Just the existence of a root-owned .keep is enough, IMHO.
    – muru
    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:55
  • @muru ubuntu 14.04 ext4 just root-owned .keep does'n work
    – Ruslan
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:05
  • 1
    @muru Without a sticky bit, I could just delete the root-owned file, since I (group) have write permission over the directory. Dec 9, 2014 at 8:06
  • 7
    Have you considered corporal punishment? It might be worth a shot.
    – mikeserv
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:12
  • 1
    @muru The sticky bit grants permissions to the parent directory owner as well as to the file owner. If user owns /home/user, he'll be able to delete .keep, even if it is owned by root under a sticky bit. Dec 9, 2014 at 8:14

1 Answer 1


To remove a directory, you need write permission over its parent. Which means that as long as user can't write to /home, he won't be able to remove his own directory.

$ chown root:root /home
$ chmod 0755 /home

$ chown user:user /home/user
$ chmod 0750 /home/user

With these permissions, root is the only user who can manipulate directories immediately under /home. This setup is actually very common on Linux systems, since they are multiuser ; however, I have seen Ubuntu setups in which /home belonged to the first user (usually ID 1000). While Ubuntu's first user usually is a sudoer (meaning he could delete everything using sudo), I don't think it is a good practise to give /home to anyone but root.

When it comes to chattr, I believe this would be overkill. You are facing a permissions problem, there is no need for other file attributes.

  • They must have been custom setups. I have never seen a /home owned by anybody other than root on Ubuntu.
    – muru
    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:54
  • chattr +a runs on /home, not on /home/user
    – Ruslan
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:16
  • @IRus Indeed, my bad. Edited! Using the a flag is still overkill anyway. Dec 9, 2014 at 8:17
  • @JohnWHSmith But a flag prevent from sudo rm -rf /home/user. Why he is overkill? Because of performance problems or something else?
    – Ruslan
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:37
  • 2
    @IRus What I know is that I don't give root permissions to anyone, and I make sure that whoever has them won't be silly enough to remove a sensitive directory. If you want to remove the human factor, remove the users. The system will run just fine. Dec 9, 2014 at 9:09

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