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-r--r-----   1 root          scratch          13 Nov 11 15:11 scratch.txt

I am a member of a different group (guest). Is there a way to access this file?

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There is not, unless you have ACLs enabled on your system. (check by using 'getfacl scratch.txt'). Otherwise the only way you will be able to access it is one of the following:

  1. Change your primary group to scratch
  2. Add scratch as a supplementary group (usermod -a -G scratch USERNAME)
  3. Change the permissions to have read by world (chmod o+r scratch.txt)
  4. Change the ownership of the file (group or user ownership)
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I don't have admin privileges on the machine. – Bruce Nov 24 '12 at 7:17
Perhaps you can ask the admin of the system if they can change your permissions? Without access to the root user you won't be able to change permissions on a file owned by root, and you won't be able to get access to it. – Justin Nov 24 '12 at 7:38
As someone who sometimes wears the sysadmin hat in the office, I would prefer the second option in the general case. – tjameson Nov 24 '12 at 8:49
As a sysadmin; I concur! Unless it is only being used by this one user, then I would change the owner. – Justin Nov 27 '12 at 11:59

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