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Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2020 16:32:45 +0100
From: Florian Weimer <>
To: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: coreutils cp mishandles error return from lchmod

* Rich Felker:

> On Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 04:08:26PM +0100, Florian Weimer wrote:
>> * Rich Felker:
>> > On Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 03:34:18PM +0100, Florian Weimer wrote:
>> >> * Rich Felker:
>> >> 
>> >> > coreutils should be opting to use the system-provided lchmod, which is
>> >> > safe, and correctly handling error returns (silently treating
>> >> > EOPNOTSUPP as success) rather than as hard errors.
>> >> 
>> >> glibc's lchmod always returns ENOSYS (except on Hurd).  I don't know how
>> >> lchmod is used in coreutils, but I suspect it is not particularly
>> >> useful.
>> >
>> > When preserving permissions (cp -p, archive extraction, etc.), you
>> > want lchmod to work correctly just for the purpose of *not* following
>> > the link and thereby unwantedly changing the permissions of the link
>> > target. But, fchmodat with AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW works just as well and
>> > is standard, and that's really what coreutils should be using.
>> I think you misread what I wrote: lchmod *always* returns ENOSYS.  Even
>> if the file is not a symbolic link.  Likewise, fchmodat with
>> AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW *always* returns ENOTSUP.
> Yes, I understood that. I was going into why there should be a real
> implementation, but didn't make it clear that that was what I was
> doing.

Ah, yes, there should be a real implementation if we can get full
lchmod/AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW behavior on file systems that support it.  If
we can't, I'm not sure if there is a point to it.

>> The reason for this is that the kernel does not provide a suitable
>> system call to implement this, even though some file systems allow a
>> mode change for symbolic links.  I think we can do better, although I
>> should note that each time we implement such emulation in userspace, it
>> comes back to bite us eventually.
> Emulations in userspace that are approximate, have race conditions,
> etc. are bad. Ones that are rigorous are good, though.

Is there a reason for the S_ISLNK check in the musl implementation?
With current kernels, chmod on the proc pseudo-file will not traverse
the symbolic link, but I have yet to check if this has always been the


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