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How can I let my fellow project team members read or write my files?

If you move or copy a file or directory from one project directory to another, or from somewhere within your home directory to somewhere within a project directory, generally the file, or the directory together with its contents, as the case may be, will keep its original ownership, group and permissions.

So, supposing Joe Bloggs moves a file from his home directory to the project directory /nesi/project/nesi99999, his fellow team members won't be able to write to it:

$ ls -l README
-rw-r--r-- 1 bloggsj bloggsj 235 Mar 14  2014 README
$ mv README /nesi/project/nesi99999/bloggsj/README
$ ls -l /nesi/project/nesi99999/bloggsj/README
-rw-r--r-- 1 bloggsj bloggsj 235 Mar 14  2014 /nesi/project/nesi99999/bloggsj/README

As you can see, the file stays in the group bloggsj, that is Joe Bloggs' personal group, even though it is now inside the project directory.

There is, however, a solution involving the rsync command, a more advanced version of scp. rsync is typically used to copy files between two or more machines, but can also be used within the same machine.


In both these commands, the --no-perms and --no-group options must both come after -a-a implicitly asserts --perms and --group, and will therefore override whichever of --no-perms and --no-group come before it.

To copy a file (or directory and its contents), updating its group and setting its permissions

rsync -a --no-perms --no-group --chmod=ugo=rwX,Dg+s /path/to/source /path/to/destination

To move a file (or directory and its contents), updating its group and setting its permissions


The --remove-source-files option is safe only if every source file is otherwise left intact during the moving process.

rsync --remove-source-files -a --no-perms --no-group --chmod=ugo=rwX,Dg+s /path/to/source /path/to/destination

If you want to set files to executable in all cases, replace ...ugo=rwX... with ...ugo=rwx.... The capital X means, "Preserve whatever executable permissions existed on the source file and aren't masked at the destination." A lower case x on the other hand means, "Make this entity executable, even if it wasn't so previously, though this may be masked at the destination."

To fix the permissions of a file or directory that is already in its intended place

Change to the parent directory, which could be a project or nobackup directory, that you want to fix, and find and fix your files. You can do this by means of the following commands.

# Replace nesi12345 with your desired project code
# Replace /nesi/project with /nesi/nobackup if needed
cd /nesi/project/${group}
# Move all files, directories, etc. owned by yourself into the project group
# The --no-dereference option updates the group of symbolic links (where permitted)
find . -user $(whoami) -print0 | xargs -0 -I {} chgrp --no-dereference ${group} {}
# Make all files owned by yourself readable and writable by the group
find . -user $(whoami) -and -type f -print0 | xargs -0 -I {} chmod g+rw {}
# Make all directories owned by yourself readable, writable and executable by the group,
# and set the setgid bit
find . -user $(whoami) -and -type d -print0 | xargs -0 -I {} chmod g+rwxs {}
# Go back to the starting location
cd ${startdir}