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So, I just installed the node.js package from and I was poking around to see what it installed. Over in /usr/local/bin I saw this owner 24561. I see it in a few other places too. What is this? What does it mean? Should it be root like everything else?

lrwxr-xr-x  1 root              wheel        66 Jun 23 13:02 mate -> /Applications/
-rwxr-xr-x  1 24561             wheel  18865984 Jun 29 09:32 node
-rwxr-xr-x  1 24561             wheel       355 Jun 29 09:32 node-waf
lrwxr-xr-x  1 root              wheel        38 Jul  3 12:15 npm -> ../lib/node_modules/npm/bin/npm-cli.js

What was curious is that I couldn't find any other information about this user by Googling. Using OS X Lion 10.7.4 with Xcode installed if that makes any difference.

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was this a tar.gz? – Cameron Aziz Jul 3 '12 at 20:59
@CameronAziz: nope. Directly from the node.js installer. I just noticed that another machine has the same thing, so it isn't machine/setup specific. On both machines /usr/local/lib and /usr/local/include also seem to be owned by this 24561 user. Weird, right? – ralphthemagician Jul 4 '12 at 0:40
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most likely, the node.js installer was designed to create a file that was 'owned' by user 24561. Your machine looks into /etc/passwd for user 24561, and when it doesn't exist, it simply displays the number. This can commonly be found when unpacking tarballs, as well as in your case when the installer was trying to assign the owner to a user that you dont have. This is why it assigns the same number on any machine.

Chances are a simple chown root node and chown root node-waf will work.

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Got it. Thanks. :) – ralphthemagician Jul 4 '12 at 22:52

isaacs here, the guy who builds most of the node binaries.

Probably not a coincidence:

$ whoami

$ id
uid=24561(isaacs) gid=20(staff)

So, looks like the thingie that builds the pkg is preserving my uid in the pkg/tar, and when you install it, it's preserving that field.

It'd be better not to have it do that, but I don't know how to configure the package maker to behave differently. If it's a problem, post a bug or send a pull req, and we can investigate further


Looks like there's already an issue for this:

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Yeap. :) I posted on that issue too. I think it's funny that we found each other in two separate places. Small internet. – ralphthemagician Mar 25 '13 at 23:02

If you see a userID (that is that number) instead of a username in that place, the most likely cause is the user has been deleted (while some of its files/directories were not). As the user was removed, the system can no longer tell its name, as ownership is preserved via the userID.

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Or, as I was waiting for a response from @ralphthemagician, it could be a foreign user. After unpacking tar balls, it's common to see a numerical representation of the owner of the uncompressed files/folders. A simple chown fixes. – Cameron Aziz Jul 3 '12 at 22:47
Ah, sure, I forgot: if that disk is exported e.g. via NFS, that could very well be -- as your local system doesn't know about users on the remote system. – Izzy Jul 4 '12 at 6:48

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