I have two users, Alice and Bob. Bob should be allowed to list, ls, Alice's home directory. Alice also has a file in her home directory that Bob should also be allowed to read.

I run these commands as root:

[root@corvatsch ~]# setfacl -m user:bob:r /home/alice/
[root@corvatsch ~]# setfacl -m user:bob:r /home/alice/file

This yields the following result in the ACLs:

[root@corvatsch ~]# getfacl -c /home/alice/


[root@corvatsch ~]# getfacl -c /home/alice/file
getfacl: Removing leading '/' from absolute path names

It looks as if Bob should now be able to read Alice's home folder as well as the content of the her file.

When Bob tries that, he gets:

[bob@corvatsch ~]$ ls -l /home/alice/
ls: cannot access /home/alice/file: Permission denied
total 0
-????????? ? ? ? ?            ? file

(Note the questionmarks!) and

[bob@corvatsch ~]$ cat /home/alice/file
cat: /home/alice/file: Permission denied

Looks like Bob can read the home directory, although in a weird way. Ls lists the file but seems to have problems with the ACLs?

And cating the file seems to not work at all.

Can somebody explain what i am missing?

NOTE: (I'm running CentOS 6.4)

  • 2
    Doesn't the directory (/home/alice) need executable access? May 13, 2013 at 14:47
  • That solves it. So it looks like ls needs x permissions read the directory content. Probably makes sense. Thanks (Post it as the answer so i can accept it.)
    – raoulsson
    May 13, 2013 at 14:50
  • 1
    In order to see the contents of a directory, a user needs x permissions.
    – slm
    May 13, 2013 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


The /home/alice/ directory needs executable access for the user accessing it.

EDIT: BTW, the question marks are there to indicate that ls can't get the permissions on the file.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .