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I'm running Ubuntu desktop and I don't have permission to modify some local files on my computer. IE - within /var/www/ I can't create a new folder unless I sudo. How do I fix it so by default I have permission without logging in as the root user?

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The answers below are all technically correct, but don't address best practices. The real answer is that you shouldn't be modifying files in /var/www, you should instead be creating a new site within Apache and pointing the site root to some files which you can access - possibly within your home directory. – kaerast Mar 25 '10 at 16:39
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Add a group (groupadd group), and then add yourself and the apache user to that group (usermod -a -G yourname group), then chown those files and directories to the group (chown user:group files). Make sure the permissions allow group to rwx (e.g. chmod 775, instead of chmod 755)

Now they're your files, and yet it won't break your web services.

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...with the addition that if you add yourself to the "www-data" group, you should already have permission to write to that directory. – Aquarion Mar 25 '10 at 16:06
@Aquarion: Yep yep. – Satanicpuppy Mar 25 '10 at 16:11
The chown isn't working for me. I've verified that I'm within the "developer" group, but when I run the command the way you wrote it it won't work. I want to make myself owner of /var/www/ and all of the files that are put there in the future. – Webnet Mar 25 '10 at 16:24
you only need one colon in the command, and again - you shouldn't need to chown, just add yourself to the www-data group. – kaerast Mar 25 '10 at 16:35
How should I configure a live server so we can still make remote modifications but in a secure way? – Webnet Mar 25 '10 at 16:38

That behavior is by design in Unix-like systems. It helps prevent grave errors. Sudo is your friend.

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