I have some problems with starting Motion software with my Raspberry Pi4 Model B 4 RAM. I have installed motion with comand line : sudo apt-get install motion The motion version is 4.1.1

After I have tried to run motion as a serivce and for this I have modified the daemon configuration in /etc/default/motion where I putted daemon = yes and in /etc/motion/motin.conf where i putted daemon = on.

After I rebooted my Raspberry Pi and if I try to digit: sudo service motion status I always get this message I attached , that said "... permission denied " and then motion never start as a service.

This is the message :

● motion.service - LSB: Start Motion detection
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/init.d/motion; generated)
   Active: active (exited) since Thu 2021-11-04 16:01:10 CET; 19min ago
     Docs: man:systemd-sysv-generator(8)
  Process: 409 ExecStart=/etc/init.d/motion start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)

nov 04 16:01:09 raspberrypi systemd[1]: Starting LSB: Start Motion detection...
nov 04 16:01:10 raspberrypi motion[409]: Starting motion detection daemon: motion.
nov 04 16:01:10 raspberrypi systemd[1]: Started LSB: Start Motion detection.
nov 04 16:01:11 raspberrypi motion[494]: [20792968:motion] [NTC] [ALL] conf_load: Processing thread 0 - config file /etc/motion/motion.conf
nov 04 16:01:11 raspberrypi motion[494]: [20792968:motion] [NTC] [ALL] motion_startup: Motion 4.1.1 Started
nov 04 16:01:11 raspberrypi motion[494]: [20792968:motion] [ERR] [ALL] myfopen: Error opening file /var/log/motion/motion.log with mode a: Permission denied
nov 04 16:01:11 raspberrypi motion[494]: [20792968:motion] [EMG] [ALL] motion_startup: Exit motion, cannot create log file /var/log/motion/motion.log: Permission denied


I don't understand why I'm getting this message of permission denied. I ask you please if someone could help me, thank you !

After i use the ls -l comand i get this :

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ ls -la /var/log/motion

drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 nov 4 15:28 .

drwxr-xr-x 9 root root 4096 nov 6 15:30 ..

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 50228 nov 5 17:51 motion.log

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ ls -l /var/log/motion

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 50228 nov 5 17:51 motion.log

And then

pi@raspberrypi:/var/log/motion $ ls -l motion.log

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 50228 nov 5 17:51 motion.log

  • Have you checked the directory /var/log/motion/ mentioned in the log? Does it exist and what are the permissions for the motion user? Is there a motion.log file in it and is it writable for the motion user?
    – Robert
    Nov 4, 2021 at 21:11
  • Hi, i'm sorry but i don't know how I could see the permissions for the motion user. I always write the comand line as pi user ( or sometimes as a root user but it show the same error ) using sudo. Could you explain how could I see the permission of the motion user please ? Thank you very much for your suggestion.
    – DanielePP
    Nov 4, 2021 at 22:02
  • I assume you know ls -l? Based on the shown permissions for user/group/other and shown file/dir owner and group you can calculate which permissions apply for the motion user.
    – Robert
    Nov 5, 2021 at 8:16
  • I saw in the directory /var/log/motion that the motion.log file exists. I don't know how to see if is writeble for the motion user and I don't how to calculate the permissions for the motion user. Thank you again for your help !
    – DanielePP
    Nov 5, 2021 at 16:48
  • Please to not try to post listings in comments. Edit your question and paste the information there.
    – Robert
    Nov 5, 2021 at 16:50

3 Answers 3


I would suggest building from source and installing in /usr/local/etc/motion folder. That's how I run it and I don't run into any permission issues. The person who manages the project suggests doing it this way, and I believe the repo that you get from apt is outdated. See the docs here for steps on how to do that: https://motion-project.github.io/motion_build.html


I think I have succesfull solved my question.

I would have change the user from root:root to motion : motion user using

sudo chown motion:motion motion.log

Now It works, and motion is starting as a service.

Thank you everybody for your help! Bye


Out of the box, on my Raspberry Pi Ubuntu Server 20 LTS, I also encountered this problem:

motion[3733241]: [0:motion] [EMG] [ALL] motion_startup: Exit motion, cannot create log file /var/log/motion/motion.log: Permission denied

It seems that at least with Ubuntu 20 LTS, after installation with sudo apt install motion, the directory /var/log/motion is owned by root:root, therefore the standard motion user motion cannot create, append, or delete files within it.

I fixed the issue by recursively changing the ownership of directory /var/log/motion and all its possibly already contained files and subdirectories to motion:adm (group adm being a conventional Debian administrator group):

chown -R motion:adm /var/log/motion

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