Why don’t Unix users use symbolic permissions anymore?

Watching junior to intermediate level sysadmins on a handful of Unix-related IRC channels, I’ve noticed that no-one seems to use symbolic permissions with “chmod” anymore. This sort of puzzles me, because symbolic permissions are the only way to change some permissions without setting all of them at once. So, I ask of you:


I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you, or the people I see on IRC, use one or the other. Me, I tend to use numeric for straightforward file permissions (755, 644, 700, 600) and symbolic for anything that isn’t those four, and always symbolic for setting sticky bits and setuidness.

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