I want anyone in group www-data to have write access to /var/www. For example, if 'a' and 'b' are in group www-data and 'a' creates a file in /var/www - then 'b' will be able to edit it.

The problem is that I create files that PHP and Apache can't edit - and they create files I can't edit without sudo. Both PHP and myself are in www-data group.

I changed the umask setting /etc/profile from umask 022 to umask 002. Is this a safe and proper way to handle this?

Update: Even after changing /etc/profile and restarting the computer PHP still creates files with permission -rw-r--r--.

  • Have you set the sticky (sgid) bit on /var/www?
    – janmoesen
    Mar 21, 2010 at 21:10
  • How do I set the sticky bit?
    – Xeoncross
    Mar 22, 2010 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


The apache startup script resets everything when apache is started on Debian/Ubuntu. On a Debian/Ubuntu system you should update your umask by adding your umask command to /etc/apache2/envvars. You may also need to change the permissions on the directories under /var/www to 2775. This will force new files that are created to be owned by the group that owns the directory instead of the default group for that user.

  • So would the command be chmod -R 2775 /var/www?
    – Xeoncross
    Mar 21, 2010 at 23:32
  • No: that would do the same to files as well as directories - a bad idea. Try: find /var/www -type d -print0 | xargs -0 chmod 2775; that only changes directories and deals with funny characters (blanks etc) in file names. Mar 22, 2010 at 1:02
  • oops, I already ran it. xD
    – Xeoncross
    Mar 22, 2010 at 2:10
  • @Xeoncross: then I recommend running something like: find /var/www -type f -print0 | xargs chmod 664. Most of the files under there should not be executable - possibly all (it depends where your cgi-bin directory is, for example). Mar 22, 2010 at 2:52

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