[Techtalk] trying to find a question that _is_ "too dumb"

Katie Bechtold katie at katie-and-rob.org
Tue Aug 12 19:09:31 EST 2003

On Tue, Aug 12, 2003 at 06:18:16PM -0400, perimorph wrote:
> What does the "s" in "sbin" stand for??

The "s" stands for "system."  Here's the lowdown, courtesy of the
Filesystem Hierarchy Standard at

"Utilities used for system administration (and other root-only
commands) are stored in /sbin, /usr/sbin, and /usr/local/sbin. /sbin
contains binaries essential for booting, restoring, recovering,
and/or repairing the system in addition to the binaries in /bin.

. . .

"Deciding what things go into "sbin" directories is simple: if a
normal (not a system administrator) user will ever run it directly,
then it must be placed in one of the "bin" directories. Ordinary
users should not have to place any of the sbin directories in their

"For example, files such as chfn which users only occasionally use
must still be placed in /usr/bin. ping, although it is absolutely
necessary for root (network recovery and diagnosis) is often used by
users and must live in /bin for that reason.

"We recommend that users have read and execute permission for
everything in /sbin except, perhaps, certain setuid and setgid
programs. The division between /bin and /sbin was not created for
security reasons or to prevent users from seeing the operating
system, but to provide a good partition between binaries that
everyone uses and ones that are primarily used for administration
tasks. There is no inherent security advantage in making /sbin
off-limits for users."

Katie Bechtold         http://katie-and-rob.org/

You are in a maze of UUCP connections, all alike.

More information about the Techtalk mailing list