ashleyharvey@Themis:~$ ls -al .chunkwmrc
-rw------- 2 ashleyharvey staff 4.7K Apr  4 22:24 .chunkwmrc
ashleyharvey@Themis:~$ chunkwm
/bin/bash: /Users/ashleyharvey/.chunkwmrc: Permission denied

So, chunkwm is running obviously under a different uid than my own. One way to fix this would be to give a wider set of permissions: I could chmod 640 or chmod 644 the file; however my question is how to figure out which uid/gid a process runs as in order to fix that while maintaining as tight a security boundary as possible.

I did find an answer on the unix stackexchange site that had to do with running stat on a process, so I tried something along the lines of $ (stat /proc/$$/), but apparently because of the difference in the macOS kernel, that won't work. I ended up in /dev, but only found fd's for the standard in/out and a bunch of special stuff, clearly that's not where process FDs go.


More relevant info on chunkwm:

ashleyharvey@Themis:~$ ls -al /usr/local/opt/chunkwm/bin/chunkwm` 
-r-xr-xr-x 1 ashleyharvey admin 207K Mar  7 21:55 /usr/local/opt/chunkwm/bin/chunkwm

ashleyharvey@Themis:~$ ps aux | grep chunkwm` 
ashleyharvey     15153   0.0  0.1  4375940  20508   ??  S    11:23pm   0:01.33 /usr/local/opt/chunkwm/bin/chunkwm

ashleyharvey@Themis:~$ type /usr/local/Cellar/chunkwm/0.4.8/bin/chunkwm
/usr/local/Cellar/chunkwm/0.4.8/bin/chunkwm is /usr/local/Cellar/chunkwm/0.4.8/bin/chunkwm

ashleyharvey@Themis:~$ file /usr/local/Cellar/chunkwm/0.4.8/bin/chunkwm
/usr/local/Cellar/chunkwm/0.4.8/bin/chunkwm: Mach-O 64-bit executable x86_64
  • 1
    Well, chunkwm might run into this error rather quickly so you won't have time to run ps aux | grep chunkwm in another tab fast enough. Also it seems as if chunkwm is a bash script, and as if something inside that script changes the uid, so can you share the script?
    – nohillside
    Apr 5, 2019 at 6:04
  • 1
    Hmm, ok, well. Probably something in the startup files then, but that's harder to analyze :-)
    – nohillside
    Apr 5, 2019 at 6:30
  • @nohillside indeed ... it's odd. Well I fixed the problem I was having but, aside from running ps on an already-running process, I don't know how to determine who a process will run as. I guess if there's a uid/gid set on a process, it can still change its uid/gid, so there might not be any way to know other than with the config files or perhaps attaching a process debugger?
    – Harv
    Apr 5, 2019 at 6:33
  • 1
    I'm still don't see how the process gets from /usr/local/Cellar/chunkwm/0.4.8/bin/chunkwm to /usr/local/opt/chunkwm/bin/chunkwm, and whether this is the same binary hardlinked twice. But without anything set to setuid it's hard to understand where you might run into access issues.
    – nohillside
    Apr 5, 2019 at 6:45
  • 1
    @nohillside you definitely had the right intuition! The config file itself (.chunkwmrc) file is a bash script. So chunkwm was running as my user and it needed exec permissions on that config file in order to fire up the daemon properly. Thanks for all your help.
    – Harv
    Apr 5, 2019 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


You have accidentially gone done a wrong path in trying to fix the bug. The error message does not mean that the user does not have permission to read the .chunkwmrc file - instead it means that the user does not have permission to execute the file.

The configuration file for chunkwm (.chunkwmrc) is actually a shell script that is run with bash (in your case). Therefore it needs to be executable.

You have set the permissions so that it is not executable, and that's why it fails. You need to run the following command:

chmod +x ~/.chunkwmrc

This will set the executable bit so that you are allowed to execute the file.

To answer your other questions about determining current uid for a process - the easiest way to do that is run the following command in Terminal:

ps xau | grep chunkwm

You'll see the username (or uid) as the first column of the result.

The /proc file system is Linux specific and doesn't exist in macOS (nor in many other operating systems). That's why the commands you have found regarding /proc do not work for you.

The /dev directory holds device nodes. macOS does not create device nodes for each running process that could give the uid of the running process. This is similar to other operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, etc. as this is simply not how /dev is meant to be used.

All in all remember that your specific problem here had nothing to do with uid's being changed, so there was no reason to lookup the uid's or trying to "stop" them being changed.

  • Yikes - you are right. I failed to notice the #!/bin/bash at the top of the .chunkwmrc file. That explains why my user needed exec permission on the file and group/other can have nothing, and it works. I was truly baffled by all of that. Thanks.
    – Harv
    Apr 5, 2019 at 22:00

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