Is it enough to see getfacl giving no error, or do I have to check some other place to see whether or not ACLs are supported by the file systems?


If you're talking about a mounted filesystem, I don't know of any intrinsic way to tell whether ACL are possible. Note that “are ACL supported?” isn't a very precise question since there are several types of ACL around (Solaris/Linux/not-POSIX-after-all, NFSv4, OSX, …). Note that getfacl is useless as a test since it will happily report Unix permissions if that's all there is: you need to try setting an ACL to test.

Still on mounted filesystem, you can check for the presence of acl in the mount options (which you can find in /proc/mount). Note that this isn't enough: you also need to take the kernel version and the filesystem type in consideration. Some filesystem types always have ACL available, regardless of mount options; this is the case for tmpfs, xfs and zfs. Some filesystems have ACL unless explicitly excluded; this is the case for ext4 since kernel 2.6.39.

  • as for the getfacl test you're right. Except if I were able to find a non-default ACL (by suppressing default ones and header). Checking /proc/mount doesn't appear to be enough in cases where the acl option is a default option not coming from the mount command or fstab, though. – 0xC0000022L Dec 31 '14 at 9:03
  • I noticed when running ZFS on Linux, with acltype=posixacl, the /proc/mounts will show posixacl, but in another system with just ext4, there's nothing inside /proc/mounts, but acl was a default mount option for ext4. – CMCDragonkai Aug 4 '16 at 13:33

To know if ACL is available you can:

  1. Check current kernel version and filesystem:
    uname -r
    df -T or mount | grep root

    Recent distro have ACL mount option included by default (since kernel 2.6). So it's not mandatory to redefine it in /etc/fstab (or similar). Non exhaustive list of filesystems concerned: ext3, ext4, tmpfs, xfs and zfs .

    If you have older setup then you may have to recompile the kernel and/or add acl in /etc/fstab.
    fstab example: /dev/root / ext4 acl,errors=remount-ro 0 1

  2. Look for existing ACL settings (the "usual" config place is on /boot):
    sudo mount | grep -i acl #optionnal
    cat /boot/config* | grep _ACL

    Depending of the system you could find the settings in /procinstead. Here is a way to extract the config from the .gz archive and then search for acl settings:
    cat /proc/config.gz | gunzip > running.config && grep -i 'acl' running.config
    cat running.config | grep _ACL

    You should see something like:

    For the filesystem you can try to get more info with:
    sudo tune2fs -l /xxx/xxx| grep 'Default mount options:'
    (replace xxx/xxx by your filesystem)

Helpfull information can be found on:
- superuser.com,
- serverfault,
- bencane.com,
- wiki.archlinux.org


acl should be enabled as default if you are using ext2/3/4 or btrfs.

Check with:

tune2fs -l /dev/sdXY | grep "Default mount options:"

If it isn't in the output do a:

tune2fs -o acl /dev/sdXY

  • the command only works for ext2/3/4, though. And it requires root, while running getfacl wouldn't. Isn't there a better option to check for support? – 0xC0000022L Dec 30 '14 at 20:50
  • grep acl /etc/mke2fs.conf will do it too. – Cthulhu Tentacles Dec 30 '14 at 21:00
  • that is also specific to ext2/3/4 and doesn't cater btrfs. Thanks for your time, but I'll hold out for a more generic solution to the issue. – 0xC0000022L Dec 30 '14 at 21:16

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