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How to change ownership of symbolic links?


On a Linux system, when changing the ownership of a symbolic link using chown, by default it changes the target of the symbolic link (ie, whatever the symbolic link is pointing to).

If you’d like to change ownership of the link itself, you need to use the -h option to chown:

-h, –no-dereference
affect each symbolic link instead of any referenced file (useful only on systems that can change the ownership of a symlink)

For example:

$ touch test
$ ls -l test*
-rw-r--r-- 1 mj   mj   0 Jul 27 08:47 test
$ sudo ln -s test test1
$ ls -l test*
-rw-r--r-- 1 mj   mj   0 Jul 27 08:47 test
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Jul 27 08:47 test1 -> test
$ sudo chown root:root test1
$ ls -l test*
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Jul 27 08:47 test
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Jul 27 08:47 test1 -> test

Note that the target of the link is now owned by root.

$ sudo chown mj:mj test1
$ ls -l test*
-rw-r--r-- 1 mj   mj   0 Jul 27 08:47 test
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Jul 27 08:47 test1 -> test

And again, the link test1 is still owned by root, even though test has changed.

$ sudo chown -h mj:mj test1
$ ls -l test*
-rw-r--r-- 1 mj mj 0 Jul 27 08:47 test
lrwxrwxrwx 1 mj mj 4 Jul 27 08:47 test1 -> test

And finally we change the ownership of the link using the -h option.

When acting on symlinks, you must tell most of the tools (chown, chmod, ls…) not to dereference the link: you must add the -h parameter, as stated in the manpage :

-h, --no-dereference
          affect symbolic links instead of any referenced file (useful only on systems that can change the ownership of a symlink)

So try : sudo chown -h askar.admin /etc/init.d/jboss1

Also note that the error you gave above

ln: creating symbolic link `/etc/init.d/jboss1': Permission denied

is not due to the owner of the symlink being somebody else than the owner of the original file. It is (most probably) caused by user askar not having write access to the directory /etc/init.d.

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