Mac OS X Server, Xserve: Disabling "Ignore ownership on this volume" via the command line (vsdbutil)

You can use the command line utility "vsdbutil" to disable "Ignore ownership on this volume." This technique can resolve certain permissions situations.
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For example: After adding a new hard drive to an Xserve, you cannot remotely change permissions to the new volume using normal means.

  • Using "chown" results in no error, but the owner remains the same.
  • Using "chgrp" results in no error, but the group remains "unknown."

This document describes using Mac OS X or Mac OS X Server 10.2 or later.

To resolve the issue, you can use the "vsdbutil" command-line tool to disable the "Ignore ownership on this volume" option and activate the on-disk permissions. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal locally (/Applications/Utilities/), or remotely connect to the server using SSH.

    Note: If you are started up from CD, you may open Terminal by choosing it from the File menu. Also note that you should not precede any commands with "sudo" if you have gone into single-user mode.

  2. Execute this command to enable permissions on the volume named "NewHD":

    $ sudo vsdbutil -a /Volumes/NewHD/

    Note: "NewHD" would be your new hard drive's volume name.

  3. Enter your administrator password when prompted, and press Return.
  4. Execute this command to display permissions status information on the volume named "NewHD":

    $ vsdbutil -c /Volumes/NewHD/

    This should result in a line that says "Permissions on '/Volumes/NewHD/' are enabled." The following is an example of the terminal output:

    [server1:/Volumes] admin# sudo vsdbutil -a /Volumes/NewHD/ 
    [server1:/Volumes] admin# vsdbutil -c /Volumes/NewHD/
    Permissions on '/Volumes/NewHD/' are enabled.

Type "vsdbutil -h" for more information on this utility.

Published Date: Feb 17, 2012