I accidentally applied chmod 700 to the whole filesystem instead of the current directory. Non-root users now cannot run any command even though I've 777'd paths in $PATH and restarted sshd just after . I don't have a replacement Linux to copy permissions from. Is there a way out? Anybody has a chart with the default permissions for main system directories? (There is too much work to set up everything on this OS, I don't really wanna start from scratch)

  • 2
    Manually resetting permissions is probably going to be more work than setting up the system from scratch intelligently. Fortunately, for most part, you just need to dump out a package list, copy over and fix any custom config files you have, and do likewise with user directories. Ow. – Journeyman Geek Oct 3 '14 at 6:50

Without a source machine to copy permissions from, wether programmatically or by hand (yeah, right), you are up the virtual creek without a paddle. The best you can do is hope for a tar backup that you took and forgot about to recreate permissions from. Even copying permissions from a proper source system will likely not bring things back to perfect functionality. In a best case scenario you are looking at getting the system to a functional state which bides you time until you build a new system and migrate services and files.

           ___________    ____                                           
    ______/   \__//   \__/____\         Only YOU                    
  _/   \_/  :           //____\\                             
 /|      :  :  ..      /        \       can prevent chmod -R errors.                  
| |     ::     ::      \        /                             
| |     :|     ||     \ \______/                               
| |     ||     ||      |\  /  |                                     
 \|     ||     ||      |   / | \     
  |     ||     ||      |  / /_\ \ 
  | ___ || ___ ||      | /  /    \    
   \_-_/  \_-_/ | ____ |/__/      \     (And take backups)
                _\_--_/    \      /   
               /____             /  
              /     \           /    

The easiest way to have a machine to copy permissions from would be to set up a fresh machine (on a VM, on a container) and copy from there. In the case of a container, you can easily access the container filesystem from the host, making it easier. If you are running Debian, check debootstrap.


check the answer here:


I would advise to test first before applying to any production environments. If your issue is fixed, then please take a backup of your system

  • yhammad, links may go bad, so please synposize the solution steps at the link in your answer, and then just leave the link for reference and further research. – music2myear Oct 3 '14 at 21:49

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