Thursday, July 5, 2012

How To Setup Default umask & How to calculate permissions from umask

When user create a file or directory under Linux or UNIX, she create it with a default set of permissions. In most case the system defaults may be open or relaxed for file sharing purpose. For example, if a text file has 666 permissions, it grants read and write permission to everyone. Similarly a directory with 777 permissions, grants read, write, and execute permission to everyone.

Default umask Value

 The user file-creation mode mask (umask) is use to determine the file permission for newly created files. It can be used to control the default file permission for new files. It is a four-digit octal number. 

Procedure To Setup Default umask 

You can setup umask in /etc/bashrc or /etc/profile file for all users. By default most Linux distro set it to 0022 (022) or 0002 (002). Open /etc/profile or ~/.bashrc file, enter:

# vi /etc/profile


$ vi ~/.bashrc

 Append/modify following line to setup a new umask:
umask 022

 Save and close the file. Changes will take effect after next login. All UNIX users can override the system umask defaults in their /etc/profile file, ~/.profile (Korn / Bourne shell) ~/.cshrc file (C shells), ~/.bash_profile (Bash shell) or ~/.login file (defines the user's environment at login)..

Explain Octal umask Mode 022 And 002 

As I said earlier, if the default settings are not changed, files are created with the access mode 666 and directories with 777. In this example:
  • The default umask 002 used for normal user. With this mask default directory permissions are 775 and default file permissions are 664.
  • The default umask for the root user is 022 result into default directory permissions are 755 and default file permissions are 644.
  • For directories, the base permissions are (rwxrwxrwx) 0777 and for files they are 0666 (rw-rw-rw).
In short,

  • A umask of 022 allows only you to write data, but anyone can read data.
  • A umask of 077 is good for a completely private system. No other user can read or write your data if umask is set to 077.
  • A umask of 002 is good when you share data with other users in the same group. Members of your group can create and modify data files; those outside your group can read data file, but cannot modify it. Set your umask to 007 to completely exclude users who are not group members.

But, How Do I Calculate umasks?

The octal umasks are calculated via the bitwise AND of the unary complement of the argument using bitwise NOT. The octal notations are as follows:
  •  Octal value : Permission
  •      0       : read, write and execute
  •      1       : read and write
  •      2       : read and execute
  •      3       : read only
  •      4       : write and execute
  •      5       : write only
  •      6       : execute only
  •      7       : no permissions
Now, you can use above table to calculate file permission. For example, if umask is set to 077, the permission can be calculated as follows:

Targeted at
File permission
read, write and execute
No permissions
No permissions
To set the umask 077 type the following command at shell prompt:
 $ umask 077
 $ mkdir dir1
 $ touch file
 $ ls -ld dir1 file 
 Sample outputs:
drwx------ 2 pal pal 4096 2011-03-04 02:05 testdir
-rw------- 1 pal pal    0 2011-03-04 02:05 file

Task: Calculating The Final Permission For FILES 

You can simply subtract the umask from the base permissions to determine the final permission for file as follows:
 666 - 022 = 644
  • File base permissions : 666
  • umask value : 022
  • subtract to get permissions of new file (666-022) : 644 (rw-r--r--)

Task: Calculating The Final Permission For DIRECTORIES 

You can simply subtract the umask from the base permissions to determine the final permission for directory as follows:
 777 - 022 = 755
  • Directory base permissions : 777
  • umask value : 022
  • Subtract to get permissions of new directory (777-022) : 755 (rwxr-xr-x)

How Do I Set umask Using Symbolic Values? 

The following symbolic values are used:
r : read
w : write
x : execute
u : User ownership (user who owns the file)
g : group ownership (the permissions granted to other users who are members of the file's group)
o : other ownership (the permissions granted to users that are in neither of the two preceding categories)
The following command will set umask to 077 i.e. a umask set to u=rwx,g=,o= will result in new files having the modes -rw-------, and new directories having the modes drwx------:
 $ umask u=rwx,g=,o=
 $ mkdir dir2
 $ touch file2
 $ ls -ld dir2 file2

Sample umask Values and File Creation Permissions                                       
If umask value set to
User permission
Group permission
Others permission
read /
 all = read, write and executable file permission

Limitations of the umask

  1. The umask command can restricts permissions.
  2. The umask command cannot grant extra permissions beyond what is specified by the program that creates the file or directory. If you need to make permission changes to existing file use the chmod command.

umask and level of security 

The umask command be used for setting different security levels as follows:                      
umask value
Security level
Effective permission (directory)
For more information about the umask read the man page of bash or ksh or tcsh shell:
man bash
 help umask
 man chmod


  1. Thanks for this very useful and informative article.It explains well about umask..!!!!!!!