Original author(s)Ken Thompson,
Dennis Ritchie
Developer(s)AT&T Bell Laboratories
Initial releaseNovember 3, 1971; 52 years ago (1971-11-03)
Operating systemUnix and Unix-like, IBM i

The command chown /ˈn/, an abbreviation of change owner, is used on Unix and Unix-like operating systems to change the owner of file system files and directories. Unprivileged (regular) users who wish to change the group membership of a file that they own may use chgrp.

The ownership of any file in the system may only be altered by a super-user. A user cannot give away ownership of a file, even when the user owns it. Similarly, only a member of a group can change a file's group ID to that group.[1]

The command is available as a separate package for Microsoft Windows as part of the UnxUtils collection of native Win32 ports of common GNU Unix-like utilities.[2] The chown command has also been ported to the IBM i operating system.[3]

See also


  1. ^ BSD Man page for chown, March 31, 1994
  2. ^ "Native Win32 ports of some GNU utilities".
  3. ^ IBM. "IBM System i Version 7.2 Programming Qshell" (PDF). IBM. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-09-18. Retrieved 2020-09-05.