In the manual for Gnu "ls," I see this:

        with -l, print the author of each file

Does anybody know what the “author” of a file means in this context?

This is (maybe?) not the file's owner, which is listed already with -l … or is it? Perhaps this refers to a different type of filesystem than mine (ext4), that has a distinction between "author" and "owner?"

On my machine, it seems to uniformly duplicate the "owner" column, but I'm definitely curious about this one.

Perhaps this is just the worst combination of "noise" keywords ever, but I can't find anything relevant online (neither /usr/share/{man,info} nor StackExchange nor Google), but “author” is practically a noiseword :-(

I suppose, if all else fails, I can dig through the coreutils sources…

  • I was going to guess the original creator of the file. So I logged in as root, created a file, than chowned it to a new owner. I was expecting it to show the new owner and keep root as the author, but sure enough, it just seemed to copy the owner column. Odd. – Safado Dec 15 '11 at 16:52
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I believe the author is the same as the owner unless you're using GNU/Hurd, in which case the two can be different. I haven't used Hurd, so I can only guess at the intended use of a unique author field.

I'm not aware of a --author flag in non-GNU versions of ls. It certainly doesn't exist in FreeBSD, which is the only other one I have easy access to right this minute.

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