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I'm trying to set ACLs so that the user and group of new files and directories created in the web server directory are owned by the www-data user. I have the exact same ACL on another server and they work fine.

andrew@sona:/srv/www$ getfacl .
# file: .
# owner: www-data
# group: www-data

andrew@sona:/srv/www$ mount | grep acl
/dev/xvda on / type ext3 (rw,noatime,errors=remount-ro,acl)
andrew@sona:/srv/www$ touch test.txt
andrew@sona:/srv/www$ ll
total 12
drwxrwxr-x+ 3 www-data www-data 4096 Sep  3 17:14 ./
drwxr-xr-x+ 3 root     root     4096 Sep  1 19:36 ../
-rw-rw-r--+ 1 andrew   andrew      0 Sep  3 17:14 test.txt

Server is Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS
Release:    12.04
Codename:   precise
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1… This may be of help? – Darius Sep 5 '13 at 15:55
The ACLs above (as far as I'm aware) shouldn't require you to set gid but should have the same effect… – Prydie Sep 6 '13 at 17:04
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Access control lists (ACL) provide a fine-grained mechanism to control the access to a file/directory. They don't change or define the ownership.

The default value defines which ACL a new created file inside that directory should "inherit". These seems to work for /srv/www, because your new created file test.txt gets some ACL (notice the + in the directory listing).

The essentials to accomplish your goal are given in the SF answer linked by @Darius:

chmod ug+s /srv/www

which sets the set-user-ID and set-group-ID bit. The info manual of coreutils explains this mechanism:

27.5 Directories and the Set-User-ID and Set-Group-ID Bits

On most systems, if a directory's set-group-ID bit is set, newly created subfiles inherit the same group as the directory, and newly created subdirectories inherit the set-group-ID bit of the parent directory. On a few systems, a directory's set-user-ID bit has a similar effect on the ownership of new subfiles and the set-user-ID bits of new subdirectories. (...)

Please note the constraint "on a few systems" for the set-user-ID bit. Indeed, neither on my Debian nor my openSuSE system the inheritance of the owner works, only the group is propagated. According to Wikipedia, this is true for all linux systems:

The setuid permission set on a directory is ignored on UNIX and Linux systems.[4] FreeBSD can be configured to interpret it analogously to setgid, namely, to force all files and sub-directories to be owned by the top directory owner.[5]

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So when you have default:group:www-data:rwx that's the default permissions that should be defined for a file created by members of that group? – Prydie Sep 15 '13 at 18:23
No, that means, that if a file/dir is created, it will have the ACL entry group:www-data:rwx -- independent who created the file. Check with getfacl test.txt for example, you'll see that all default entries of the directory show up. – mpy Sep 15 '13 at 18:27
Does that not imply then that the group of the file should be www-data? I'm confused as to what function allowing you to specify the group in a default rule has if this is not the case. – Prydie Sep 15 '13 at 18:55
@Prydie Default ACL entries work like normal ACL entries. The group:www-data: part specifies who should get the following permissions. – Blacklight Shining Sep 15 '13 at 19:00
@Prydie: This article is a really good introduction to ACL, it surely explains the concepts better than I. (I think this documents was also my start into the world of Linux ACL...) – mpy Sep 15 '13 at 19:06

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