I am having a really tough time understand user/group permissions. I have spent hours reading and trying things. Here is what I have:

Directories Permissions

Input 1: ls -lhd

Output 1:

/var/log: drwxrwxr-x 11 root syslog 4.0K May 10 01:59 .

/var/log/mongosqld: drw-rw-r-- 2 mongosqld logstash 4.0K May 10 03:37 .

Note: I set this up using chown and chgrp.

File Permissions

Input 2: ls -lh

Output 2:


total 12K
-rw-rw-r-- 1 mongosqld logstash 1.4K May 10 03:43 mongosqld.log


Input: groups logstash mongosqld


logstash : logstash
mongosqld : users logstash

My Question

When I try to open a file as the mongosqld user, it tells me open /var/log/mongosqld/mongosqld.log: permission denied. Where I am going wrong.


You can’t access anything in /var/log/mongosqld (unless you’re running as root) because it (the directory) doesn’t have any execute bits set.


To open a file, I guess you mean you want to look at it's content.

The open function is not what you want for that. Do man open or open -h to learn what open does.

To look at a file you can do :

  • head or tail to look at it's first (last) lines

  • less (less is more) to look at it's content (it's a "pager")

or you can edit it in an editor such as vim or emacs etc..

  • How does this explain the permission problem described in the question? – Stephen Kitt May 10 at 7:21
  • The user, after a long digression on permissions, opened a file... How ? We don't even have the input... or do we ? I thought the "open /var/log/mongosqld/mongosqld.log" provided might have been part of the input, so provided classic advices on how to open a file... – Samusz May 10 at 21:38
  • The “open /var/log/mongosqld/mongosqld.log: permission denied” indicates that the user knows how to open a file, but doesn’t have the permission to do so. – Stephen Kitt May 11 at 4:24

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