dpkg-statoverride – Override file ownership and mode in Debian Linux

The dpkg-statoverride command in Debian Linux is used to override the ownership and permissions of a file or directory. It is useful when you want to change the ownership or permissions of a file or directory permanently, even after package upgrades or changes.


The syntax for using dpkg-statoverride is as follows:

dpkg-statoverride [options] [--add | --remove] owner[:group] mode path
  • owner[:group]: specifies the owner and group of the file or directory. If group is not specified, the primary group of the owner is used.
  • mode: specifies the permissions of the file or directory in octal notation.
  • path: specifies the path to the file or directory.

The --add option adds a new override, while the --remove option removes an existing override.


Here are some examples of how to use dpkg-statoverride:

To change the owner and group of /var/www/html to www-data:www-data and set the permissions to 755:

dpkg-statoverride --add www-data:www-data 755 /var/www/html

To remove the override for /var/www/html:

dpkg-statoverride --remove /var/www/html


Here are the available options for dpkg-statoverride:

Option Description
--list Lists all current overrides.
--quiet Suppresses output.
--verbose Enables verbose output.
--help Displays help information.

Troubleshooting tips

  • If you receive a “Permission denied” error when trying to override a file or directory, make sure you have root privileges.
  • If you are unsure of the current ownership and permissions of a file or directory, use the ls -l command to display the information.


  • Overrides are stored in the /var/lib/dpkg/statoverride file.
  • Overrides are applied during package upgrades and changes, so it is important to use dpkg-statoverride instead of manually changing ownership and permissions.
  • Overrides are not recursive, so if you want to apply an override to all files and directories within a directory, you must apply the override to each individual file and directory.