Using rsync to mirror directories where root owns file, using non-root user to initiate session

Kevin Korb kmk at
Wed Jun 20 16:29:09 MDT 2012

Hash: SHA1

On 06/20/12 18:26, PEOPLES, MICHAEL P wrote:
> I have spent a day researching and attempting to debug this issue.
> I am hoping someone can tell me how (or disabuse me of the delusion
> that it's possible) to do the following:
> - Mirror the contents of a directory on one server to a remote
> server where there are diverse ownership and permissions
> - File and directory ownership on both the source and destination
> servers would normally prevent the user account initiating the
> rsync session from accessing, modifying, or changing attributes of
> the files and directories in question
> - Session authentication of the initiating user on the remote
> server must be by public key
> - No root logins are permitted on either server
> I can successfully transfer the files with the user account, but if
> the files have ownership attributes that need to be set on the
> remote (destination) server, using the --owner, --group, and/or
> --perms options produces errors indicating the "Operation is not
> permitted".  When logged into the remote server as the user, I
> still cannot modify the attributes, only root (super user) can do
> this.  The "--super" command line option appears to have no
> effect.
> Both servers are Red Hat Linux.  I am using rsync 3.0.9.
> The only way I can conceive of doing this would be to record the
> file attributes, transfer the files (along with a record of their
> attributes), then run a script using sudo that would move the files
> into their final location and set the attributes.  This, however,
> would seem to defeat much of the purpose of rsync.
> The manuals suggest there is a way to invoke super user
> functionality when contacting a daemon instance, but I could not
> get this to work.  However, this appears to require contacting an
> rsync daemon started by root.  Attempting to perform the rsync,
> while simultaneously using the public key, which can only be used
> when "ssh" is invoked, seems to exclude the use of the daemon on
> the remote side, effectively running the entire rsync session as
> the user without elevated privileges.
> In short, I want to copy files from one server to another, and have
> all ownership and permissions preserved (including root), using
> rsync to perform "privileged" operations to set file attributes
> properly and a public key to authenticate the user.
> Thanks.
> Michael Peoples (mp4783) Senior Systems Manager AT&T - ATTSI 
> Office/Cell:  614-886-0923 
> mpeoples at<mailto:mpeoples at>
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	Kevin Korb			Phone:    (407) 252-6853
	Systems Administrator		Internet:
	FutureQuest, Inc.		Kevin at  (work)
	Orlando, Florida		kmk at (personal)
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