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I have an installation script that unzips a directory, then recursively chmods its contents.

I'm surprised it takes almost 10 times the time it takes to unzip, to run the following two commands:

find $dir -type f -exec chmod a+r "{}" \;
find $dir -type d -exec chmod a+rx "{}" \;

Am I doing something wrong, is there a faster way to change the chmod of all files and directories?

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One trick I use is just to do a chmod -R on everything (files & directories) then run the find to fix up the directories – jeffatrackaid May 20 '13 at 16:58
You are doing -exec chmod a+r "{}" \; try chmod a+r "{}" + instead. The first will run the command chmod once for every directory. The later command will run chmod a few times, with a list of directories as options (ie chmod dir1 dir2 dir3 dir4). This means far few processes are created. – Zoredache May 20 '13 at 17:01
Could the downvoter/closer explain what's wrong with this question? – Benjamin May 20 '13 at 17:01
I didn't downvote, but your question probably would have been more appropriate over on – Zoredache May 20 '13 at 17:02
Oh, OK, thanks for letting me know :) – Benjamin May 20 '13 at 17:02

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You can get rid of the find commands by using chmod's X flag:

execute/search only if the file is a directory or already has execute permission for some user (X)

This allows you to set the same permissions on files and directories, with directories additionally being executable, with a single command:

$ chmod -R a+rX $dir
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Now that's a fast alternative! Thanks for your answer. – Benjamin May 20 '13 at 21:25

You could do the following (assumming Linux):

cd $dir
chmod -R a+r .
find . -type d -print0 | xargs -0 chmod a+x

This should be much faster than the combination of the two commands you indicated in your question.

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Use tar instead. Specifically with the -p, --preserve-permissions, --same-permissions flag.
You won't can't directly zip it, but -z, --gzip, -j, --bzip2 or -J, --xz ought to work well enough. If you really must have zip it's only a | away.

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Given your command, I'm thinking you are spending time waiting for find not chmod.


chmod -R a+r $dir

The "-R" means recursive

When you run the unzip and other commands preface them with


To get a measurement of the time spent for the various commands.

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Thanks, but unfortunately this solves only half of the problem (I need a different chmod for directories). – Benjamin May 20 '13 at 17:09

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