I am working on setting up an automated deployment of an executable using the PIGPIO C bindings to a Pi Zero. I copy the executable to the pi (into a directory on pi user's desktop) as expected, but when I try to run it, I get a permissions error:

|Sorry, you don't have permission to run this program.    |
|Try running as root, e.g. precede the command with sudo. |

It seems this problem can be solved by setting the executable to be owned by root and using a permission setting like 4775. This seems to allow me to run the executable while logged in as pi.

Unfortunately though, when I then copy a new version of the executable in, the ownership permissions stay the same, but the sticky bit is removed and I can no longer run the executable. It seems like the right answer would be "figure out how to run the executable when it's owned by pi". Is this possible? Can I change something so PIGPIO can access the needed hardware without having to do weird things with the permissions?

This question seems to be a similar issue, but with PWM specifically. I see a gpio group but pi is already in that group. Is this question related or completely misleading me?

  • 1
    If you can copy a new file to the Pi, you can also set the permissions on it. Apr 1, 2020 at 7:35
  • Have a look at using the C I/F to the pigpio daemon. That will be quite suitable for a lot of usage. abyz.me.uk/rpi/pigpio/pdif2.html
    – joan
    Apr 1, 2020 at 7:47
  • @joan how does that differ from the standard pigpio library? Will it not run into the permissions issues seen with the other?
    – RedBassett
    Apr 1, 2020 at 22:18
  • @DmitryGrigoryev In theory, yes, but that is proving difficult with the automated deployment I am using. I can change permissions, but my question is whether there is another way to fix the issue without using special permission bits.
    – RedBassett
    Apr 1, 2020 at 22:19
  • The pigpio daemon will need to be started with sudo. Programs linked against pigpiod_if2 do not.
    – joan
    Apr 2, 2020 at 7:07

1 Answer 1


I am assuming you have the source code of your C program. If so, add these lines:

At the top:

#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>

Near the start of main():

if (setuid(getuid()) < 0)
        printf("Privilege change failed\n");

You can use any other error notification, instead of the printf.

See man -s 2 setuid for details.

  • This isn't a C program originally, it is an executable from Kotlin Native that is linked to the PIGPIO library. I am favoring a solution that lets the library be run from the pi user without needing special permission bits and sudo, if one exists, in part because I want to avoid fiddling with parts of the C library.
    – RedBassett
    Apr 1, 2020 at 22:26
  • -1. This will fail unless the process is already privileged (e.g. running as root), at which point there is no purpose in setuid. Apr 2, 2020 at 7:57
  • @DmitryGrigoryev I copied these lines (I'm afraid I can't find the reference) for my first ever Pi program; believing it was necessary to access GPIO. It most certainly does not fail, in the sense that I have never experienced the error message. I can't check now, but IIRC, the executable is owned by pi and has default permissions (755).
    – Peter bill
    Apr 2, 2020 at 9:32
  • Think about it: if any executable with default permissions can simply call setuid(getuid()) to run as root, what is the purpose of having sudo and the sticky bit? Apr 2, 2020 at 9:48

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