I am trying to write a script that runs on boot that checks to see if the boot filesystem is read only, if it is, then run fsck to fix permissions and reboot.

Point 1: I am having trouble figuring out how to grep just the permissions line from a ls command.

Point 2: I am also having trouble figuring out how to check if that command returns a string without w in it.

For example, an ls -l command returns a line similar to the following:

drwx-----+ 5 Admin staff 170 Oct 12 05:41 Documents

I want to grab just the following string:


Then, check if it does not contain write permissions.

Below is the script I have so far.



#If $DIR has only read permissions run loop
if [[ #point 1 = #point 2 ]] then
    #fix permissions on $DIR
    umount ${DIR}
  • It's easy to do what you want : if ls -l dir | awk '{print $1}'|grep w; then ... but it makes totally no reason to do that in such compilated and resourse-consuming way.
    – gena2x
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:50
  • @gena2x Thanks for your comment, however, is there a way to check if a single directory contains write permissions? That command returns the permissions of each directory within the directory I specified. Nov 11, 2016 at 15:53
  • Why do you parse ls output? The shell has some native features to test permissions of files (from the callers point of view); alternatively, there is the stat command. Or you may use the find command with a suitable search expression. Nov 11, 2016 at 15:54

2 Answers 2

if ! [[ -w "$DIR" ]]; then
    # $DIR is not writeable

This will apply for the current user though. Don't know if that's what you want.

EDIT: If you do need to extract the permissions string, a simple way is by using stat:

stat -c %A "$DIR"

returns something like:

  • 1
    is not writeable... by the caller. Here, the caller is most likely root, so will have write access as long as the filesystem is not mounted read-only regardless of the permissions. Nov 11, 2016 at 15:54
  • See my edit just now.
    – Muzer
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:56

Do not ever parse the output of ls. Scripting 101.

man find
man findmnt

The root file system is never mounted read-only if the system has reached the multiuser target or runlevel. This means that the only user who can ever find the root file system mounted read-only is root. And root can write everywhere regardless of permissions. Therefore, to check whether the root filesystem is readonly you can simply try to touch a file:

if touch /testfile ; then
# The root filesystem is read-write
  rm /testfile
# The root filesystem is read-only
# Do something about it

However, this should not be needed. The system should drop into a single-user shell if it cannot mount the root file system read-write.

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