aclv(5)aclv(5)NAMEaclv - introduction to JFS access control lists (ACLs)
Access control lists (ACLs) are a key enforcement mechanism of discre‐
tionary access control (see Definitions below), for specifying access
to files by users and groups more selectively than traditional HP-UX
HP-UX already enables non-privileged users or processes, such as file
owners, to allow or deny other users access to files and other objects
on a "need to know" basis, as determined by their user and/or group
identity (see passwd(4) and group(4)). This level of control is accom‐
plished by setting or manipulating a file's permission bits to grant or
restrict access by owner, group, and others (see chmod(2)).
ACLs offer a greater degree of selectivity than permission bits. ACLs
allow the file owner or superuser to permit or deny access to a list of
users and groups other than the file owner and owning group.
ACLs are supported as a superset of the UNIX operating system discre‐
tionary access control (DAC) mechanism for files, but not for other
objects such as inter-process communication (IPC) objects.
This manual page describes ACLs as implemented on JFS file systems
only. See acl(5) for a description of ACLs in HFS file systems.
Because control of access to data is a key concern of computer secu‐
rity, we provide the following definitions, based on those of the to
explain further both the concepts of access control and its relevance
to HP-UX security features:
access "A specific type of interaction between a subject and an
object that results in the flow of information from one
to the other." Subjects include "persons, processes, or
devices that cause information to flow among objects or
change the system state." Objects include files (ordi‐
nary files, directories, special files, FIFOs, etc.) and
inter-process communication (IPC) features (shared mem‐
ory, message queues, semaphores, sockets).
access control list (ACL)
An access control list is a set of (user|group, mode)
entries associated with a file that specify permissions
for all possible user-IDs and/or group-IDs.
access control list (ACL) entry
An entry in an ACL that specifies access rights for a
file's owner, owning group, group class, additional
user, additional group, or all others.
The right to alter DAC information (permission bits or
ACL entries). Change permission is granted to object
(file) owners and to privileged users.
discretionary access control (DAC)
"A means of restricting access to objects based on the
identity of subjects and/or groups to which they belong.
The controls are discretionary in the sense that a sub‐
ject with a certain access permission is capable of
passing that permission (perhaps indirectly) to any
mode Three bits in each ACL entry that represent read, write,
and execute/search permissions. These bits may exist in
addition to the 16 mode bits associated with every file
in the file system (see glossary(9)).
privilege The ability to ignore access restrictions and change
restrictions imposed by security policy and implemented
in an access control mechanism. In HP-UX, superusers
and members of certain groups (see privgrp(4)) are the
only privileged users.
restrictive versus permissive
An individual ACL entry is considered restrictive or
permissive, depending on context. Restrictive entries
deny a user and/or group access that would otherwise be
granted by less-specific base or optional ACL entries
(see below). Permissive entries grant a user and/or
group access that would otherwise be denied by less-spe‐
cific base or optional ACL entries.
Access Control List Entries
An access control list (ACL) consists of a set of one-line entries
associated with a file that specify permissions. Each entry specifies
for one user-ID or group-ID a set of access permissions, including
read, write, and execute/search.
To help understand the relationship between access control lists and
traditional file permissions, consider the following file and its per‐
The file owner is user james.
The file's group is admin.
The name of the file is datafile.
The file owner permissions are rwx.
The file group permissions are r-x.
The file other permissions are r--.
In an ACL, user and group IDs can be represented by names or numbers,
Supported commands that manage JFS ACLs recognize the following sym‐
An ACL entry prefixed with or can occur only in a directory's ACL, and
it indicates that the remainder of the entry is not to be used in
determining the access rights to the directory, but is instead to be
applied to any files or subdirectories created in the directory (see
ACL Inheritance, below).
The uid and gid fields contain either numeric user or group IDs, or
their corresponding character strings from or The perm field indicates
access permission either in symbolic form, as a combination of and or
in numeric form, as an octal value of 0 through 7 representing the sum
of 4 for read permission, 2 for write permission and 1 for execute per‐
Base ACL Entries
When a file is created, four base access control list entries are
mapped from the file's access permission bits to match a file's owner
and group and its traditional permission bits. This is known as a
"minimal ACL". Base ACL entries can be changed by the chmod(2) and
acl(2) system calls.
Base ACL entry for the file's owner
Base ACL entry for the file's group
Base ACL entry for the file's group class
Base ACL entry for others
When an ACL is minimal, i.e., it has no optional ACL entries (see next
section), then the and permissions are exactly equal.
Optional ACL entries
Optional access control list entries contain additional access control
information, which the user can set with the acl(2) system call to fur‐
ther allow or deny file access. Up to thirteen optional ACL entries
can be specified.
For example, the following optional access control list entries can be
associated with our file:
Grant read, write, and execute access to user mary.
Deny any access to user george.
Grant read and write access to members of group writers.
In an ACL that contains more than one entry and/or more than one entry,
the entry specifies the maximum permissions that can be granted by any
of the additional and entries. If a particular permission is not
granted in the entry, then it cannot be granted by any ACL entries
(except for the first [owner] entry and the entry). Any permission can
be denied to a particular user or group. The entry acts as a upper
bound for file permissions.
When an ACL contains more than one and/or entry, the collection of
additional and entries are referred to as the class entries, since the
effective permission granted by any of these additional entries is lim‐
ited by the entry.
If there are additional entries in the ACL, the entry will no longer
necessarily equal the value of the permission for the owning group as
reported by This feature is useful because it means that the chmod(1)
command can usefully affect the permissions of a file that has addi‐
tional ACL entries.
Entries are unique in each ACL. There can be only one of each type of
base entry, and one entry for any given user or group ID. Likewise,
there can be only one of each type of default base entry, and one
default entry for any given user or group ID.
When a directory's ACL contains default entries, those entries are not
used in determining access to the directory itself. Instead, every
time a file is created in the directory, the directory's default ACL
entries are added as non-default ACL entries to the new file.
For example, suppose the directory has the following ACL, as reported
Then, any new file created in would have its ACL initialized using a
combination of the creator's umask (e.g., 022) and the directory's
default ACL entries as follows:
When a new subdirectory is created, the parent directory's default ACL
entries are added to the new subdirectory twice, first as its non-
default ACL entries, and second as the subdirectory's default ACL
entries. In this way, default ACLs propagate downward as trees of
directories are created. If the file created in the previous example
were instead a directory, its ACL would appear as follows:
Access Check Algorithm
To determine the permission granted to an accessing process's effective
user ID (EGID) and effective group ID (EGID), respectively, the follow‐
ing checks are made, in the following order:
If the EUID of the process is the same as the owner of the file,
grant the permissions specified in the entry.
If the EUID matches the UID specified in one of the additional
entries, grant the permissions specified in that entry, bitwise-
ANDed with the permissions specified in the entry.
If the EGID of the process is the same as the owning group of
the file, grant the permissions specified in the entry.
If the EGID matches the UID specified in one of the additional
entries, grant the permissions specified in that entry, bitwise-
ANDed with the permissions specified in the entry.
Otherwise, grant the permissions specified in the entry.
Once access rights have been determined by one of the above checks, the
subsequent checks in the list are not performed.
ACL Operations Supported
ACLs may be set, retrieved or counted, via the acl(2) system call.
ACLs may be set or modified using the setacl(1) command, and may be
retrieved using the getacl(1) command. The permissions granted to a
particular user or group ID may be determined via the getaccess(1) com‐
mand and the getaccess(2) system call. Files with certain ACL proper‐
ties may be located using the option of find(1).
ACL Interaction with stat(2), chmod(2), and chown(2)
stat The st_mode field summarizes the caller's access rights to the
file. It differs from file permission bits only if the file
has one or more optional entries applicable to the caller. The
st_basemode field provides the file's actual permission bits.
The st_aclv field indicates the presence of optional ACL
entries in the file's ACL.
The st_mode field contains a user-dependent summary, so that
programs ignorant of ACLs that use stat(2) and chmod(2) are
more likely to produce expected results, and so that stat(2)
provides reasonable information about remote files over NFS.
The st_basemode and st_aclv fields are useful only for local
chmod Setting the group permission bits via chmod(2) system call
affects the file's entry, which would in turn affect the per‐
missions granted by additional and entries. In particular,
using chmod(2) to set a file's permission bits to all zeroes
removes all access to the file, regardless of permissions
granted by any additional or entries.
chown When a file's owner or owning group are changed via chown(2) to
a UID or GID that has existing or entries, those entries are
not removed from the ACL, but they are rendered moot, because
the or entries take precedence.
The header file defines the following constants to govern the numbers
of entries per ACL:
maximum number of entries per ACL, including base entries
number of base entries
The ACL structure is also defined, and includes the following members:
The header also defines the set of valid values for the field, as well
as the valid values for the cmd argument to the acl(2) system call.
The header defines constants for use with getaccess(2).
Special parameter values for uid:
UID_EUID use effective user ID
UID_RUID use real user ID
UID_SUID use saved user ID
Special parameter values for ngroups:
NGROUPS_EGID process's effective gid
NGROUPS_RGID process's real gid
NGROUPS_SGID process's saved gid
NGROUPS_SUPP process's supplementary groups only
NGROUPS_EGID_SUPP process's effective gid plus supplementary groups
NGROUPS_RGID_SUPP process's real gid plus supplementary groups
NGROUPS_SGID_SUPP process's saved gid plus supplementary groups
ACLs cannot be used to restrict the superuser's access.
Most, but not all, supported utilities are able to handle ACLs cor‐
rectly. However, only the fbackup(1M) and frecover(1M) file archive
utilities handle access control lists properly. When using programs
unable to handle ACLs on files with optional ACL entries (such as ar‐
chive programs ar(1), cpio(1), ftio(1), tar(1), and dump(1M)), note the
Access Control List information included on their respective reference
pages to avoid loss of data.
NFS NFS does not support ACLs on remote files. Individual manual
entries specify the behavior of various system calls, library
calls, and commands under these circumstances. Be careful when
transferring a file with optional entries over a network or when
manipulating a remote file because optional entries may be
The access control list design described here was developed by AT&T.
Header file that supports
Defines user names and user and group ID values.
Defines group names.
SEE ALSOchmod(1), cp(1), find(1), getaccess(1), getacl(1), ln(1), ls(1), mv(1),
rm(1), setacl(1), fbackup(1M), frecover(1M), fsck(1M), fsdb(1M)access(2), acl(2), chmod(2), chown(2), creat(2), getaccess(2),
mknod(2), open(2), stat(2), aclsort(3), cpacl(3), group(4), passwd(4),