Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

So I am using for my SFTP client and I changed permissions in /home/ and pressed the "Apply to Enclosed..." option as well. So essentially it is applying the desired permission to every single thing in /home/. The size of the directory is a couple gigabytes. Probably 2 or 3. This has been taking like 15 minutes so far. Do you know how long it takes on average? Also, if I need to go or something - is it a bad idea to stop it midway through?

share|improve this question
A better question might be why you're modifying the permissions recursively over the entire /home/ hierarchy. I suspect you're going to end up with something you really don't want. What were you attempting to accomplish (aside from trashing permissions on the entire /home/ hierarchy)? – Evan Anderson Jan 6 '12 at 20:42
You can cancel it if you'd like. Odds are you've already changed a bunch of permissions anyway. It might give you less to clean up if you stop it now. What were you trying to actually accomplish? – Evan Anderson Jan 6 '12 at 20:45
2 user editing every home directory? O_o – Bart Silverstrim Jan 6 '12 at 20:53
@wombats Soooo, everyone is able to read and execute anything in anyone else's home directory? Yeah, that seems like a terrible idea. – MDMarra Jan 6 '12 at 20:56
I don't know. The other user is my pet wombat so his Unix skills are sub par... – wombats Jan 6 '12 at 21:45

You're modifying inodes and not files, it should be fairly quick. Last time I did that it took under a minute on our old LTSP boxen. You've made a bunches of changes already if it worked at all.

But it's generally a bad idea to do such indiscriminate changes.

Update based on the comments: @wombats You need to set up another directory on the box, set up a group for it, set the group permissions for the directory with a chmod -R 2770 /shared/foo and chown -R .groupname /shared/foo, and then reset your /home directory to its original value.

And ask your local sysadmin for her forgiveness for doing such a heinous thing.

I also recommend reading my answer to a related question:

share|improve this answer

O_o what were you doing this for?

I'm hoping you're the only person on this machine. At any rate, there's no way to answer this, because it depends on the size of your /home directory. It can take minutes. It can take days. Depends on users and number of files and the disk subsystem speed, drive speed, system load...etc...

At any's usually a rather bad idea to recursively change the /home folder.

Is it bad to stop midway through? depends, I suppose. It could mean less to fix later. If you're the only user on the machine, I suppose it doesn't matter all that much. It might lead to some interesting errors down the road, but you might have them just from playing with recursive permissions like this...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.