I hope you have a solution for that: I wanted to remove permissions to a specific folder with:

sudo chmod -rwx ./

But instead I had executed:

sudo chmod -rwx /

so I had removed all permissions to the root directory instead of the current folder.

Now I don't have access to any command, including sudo. I am on a rpi 4 running on Raspberry PI OS (Raspbian). I have a lot of important things, a pro website with a database. I have one or two backups of one database but not the others... I have a few importants programs without backups.

The OS does not boot actually.

Thank you if you can help me!

  • 4
    If you do things like this expect to break your OS. Restore from your backup. You COULD try mounting on a Linux OS and fix permissions.
    – Milliways
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 10:10
  • 3
    @Milliways The damage is not that bad, he only removed permissions from a single folder. If it was chmod -R, then restoring from backup would make more sense. Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 13:00
  • 4
    Hint: next time, use . instead of ./ - it's shorter to type and harder to make a problematic typo that way. Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


This is an issue that cannot be corrected out of the running system. I would advise shutting down the Pi(1), removing the SD card and then attaching it via card-reader to a different computer running Linux (if you have one available). In the following steps, I will call that machine the "recovery machine".

(1) since you probably can't call shutdown anymore, you have to either try an ordered shutdown via the Magic SysRq keystroke Alt+SysRq+REISUB, or if that fails, you will need to perform a hard power-off instead

On your recovery machine:

  • Identify the device if necessary. To do so, you could e.g. execute
    ~ # journalctl -f
    as root user on your "recovery" machine and check for an entry like
    Okt 29 18:58:31 my-machine kernel: sd 33:0:0:0: [sdb] 62333948 512-byte logical blocks: (31.9 GB/29.7 GiB)
    Okt 29 18:58:31 my-machine kernel:  sdb: sdb1 sdb2
    that coincides with your plugging in the SD card. Assuming a standard Raspbian disk layout, the relevant device containing the root partition would be /dev/sdb2.
  • As root on the recovery machine, perform an fsck on the partitions of the SD card before mounting any of them:
    ~ # fsck -v /dev/sdb1
    (fsck output)
    ~ # fsck -v /dev/sdb2
    (fsck output)
  • Mount the root partition of the SD card. It should be the second partition:
    ~ # mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt
    If you execute an ls command in the root directory of your recovery machine, the entry for the /mnt mount-point will then look something like
    / # ls -l
    d---------  18 root root  4096 Mar 14  2021 mnt
    reflecting the completely removed permissions on the / partition of your SD card.
  • Re-add the necessary permissions via
    / # chmod 755 /mnt
    If you run ls again, the entry should look more familiar, like
    drwxr-xr-x  18 root root  4096 Mar 14  2021 mnt
  • Afterwards, unmount, plug the card back in the Pi, and boot. It should work again (mainly because it seems that you didn't recursively revoke the rwx permissions).
  • A slight departure from your excellent solution is to utilize chmod capability to clone/copy permissions from one file or directory to another using the --reference option. See man chmod for details.
    – Seamus
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 18:18

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