I'm looking to control the file mode bits of the directory-to-be-created in the rsync command below:

rsync -a ... <remote-user>@<remote-host>:/some/existing/path/directory-to-be-created/

As the name hopefully implies, that directory does not yet exist and rsync is expected to create it; which it dutifully does... However, near as I can tell it always does this adhering to the <remote-host>'s default umask and no --chmod=... incantation that I can fathom will make it do something else...

So is it possible at all to set the file mode with which a missing target directory will be created, and if so how?

2 Answers 2


rsync may not support that functionality natively, but you could use file systems ACLs to ensure any newly created directory underneath /some/existing/path/ has a specific set of permissions. For example:

$ setfacl -dm u::rwx,g::rx,o::r /some/existing/path/

Newly created directories underneath /some/existing/path/ should now have the permissions 750, manually or through rsync.

  • Interesting... I didn't know about ACLs yet. However, like expecting the system default umask to be, say, 0022, this solution too depends on pre-made provisions at the receiving end... which - as was my experience, and direct cause for this question - can change... I was hoping for a least-assumptions type of solution.
    – cueedee
    Nov 4, 2019 at 14:33
  • Right, not optimal, but useful for routine rsync operations to similar directory structures (something like backups).
    – mehlj
    Nov 4, 2019 at 14:35

This answer set me on track of the --rsync-path=PROGRAM option:


Use this to specify what program is to be run on the remote machine to start-up rsync. Often used when rsync is not in the default remote-shell’s path (e.g. --rsync-path=/usr/local/bin/rsync).

Note that PROGRAM is run with the help of a shell, so it can be any program, script, or command sequence you’d care to run, so long as it does not corrupt the standard-in & standard-out that rsync is using to communicate.

One tricky example is to set a different default directory on the remote machine for use with the --relative option. For instance:

rsync -avR --rsync-path="cd /a/b && rsync" host:c/d /e/

So it would appear that I can just do:

rsync -a --rsync-path='umask 0022 && rsync' ...

... to pre-set the umask (or in fact, any required conditions) before the remote rsync gets invoked :-)

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