Setting File and Folder Permissions

Applies to Version(s): Thesis 1

The majority of Thesis users will have web accounts on servers running a Unix-based operating system (such as Unix or Linux). On Unix systems, files and folders are given attribute settings called permissions that tell the system what actions can be performed with these files, and who is allowed to perform them.

(In dealing with permissions, you may run across the Unix term CHMOD. Chmod is a command which stands for ‘change mode,’ and is just another way of saying ‘change permissions.’)

Levels of Permissions & Types of Groups

For the purposes of installing Thesis, there are three kinds of permissions that apply to files/folders. Each permission has a plain language description, as well as a letter designation and a numeric (also called octal) value:

  • read it – r4
  • write (to) it – w2
  • execute it – x1

Additionally, there are three ‘groups’ of users who can act on a file/folder. The terminology for these groups varies a bit depending on who you talk to, but fundamentally we’re talking about:

  • owner (that would be you)
  • group (other system files)
  • public (visitors, bots, the world at large)

Using permission settings, you must tell the server whether a given ‘group’ can read/write/execute a file or folder. Sometimes a group is allowed to perform one of these actions to a file; sometimes it can perform two actions, or all three. Permissions for files and folders on *nix servers can be set using the same FTP program that you’ll use to upload Thesis.

Windows Servers and Permissions

Occasionally, a site may be hosted on a server which runs on Windows rather than Unix. Your site may be hosted on a server which runs on Windows rather than Unix. If so, though you can use FTP to install Thesis, you won’t be able to set permissions as we’ve described above – nor will you have to. *nix-style permissions do not exist in the Windows world. Notes on what this means for installing Thesis on a Windows server follow below.

Applying Permissions

The Thesis folder named cache requires a setting of 775 in order to enable auto-generation of thumbnail images. That’s three digits, one for each of the three ‘groups’ of users: 7 for owner, 7 for group, and 5 for public. Each digit is a total of the numeric values for the permissions which each ‘group’ has for the cache folder:

Both owner and group can read, write, and execute: that’s r-w-x, or 4 + 2 + 1 which means 7

Public can read and execute: that’s r---x, or 4 + 1 which means 5

Hence, 775.

Depending on your FTP program, you may need to give the permission setting by ticking boxes, typing in letters, or by typing in the numeric values.

The Thesis file layout.css requires a setting of 666: that is, 6 for owner, 6 for group, and 6 for public.

Owner, group, and public can read and write this file, but not execute it: that’s r-w--, or 4 + 2 which means 6 for each group.

Hence, 666.