cap_setgroups - Linux


cap_setgroups manipulates capability sets and groups for processes. Capability sets represent individual capabilities that may be granted to processes, while groups represent combinations of capabilities. This command provides fine-grained control over the capabilities that a process may exercise.


cap_setgroups username <GROUP_LIST>
cap_setgroups -r username
cap_setgroups -e username
cap_setgroups -d username


| Option | Description | Default |
| -r | Remove all groups from the specified user. | N/A |
| -e | Disable all capabilities for the specified user. | N/A |
| -d | Delete the user from the capability groups database. | N/A |


Granting Capabilities to a User

To grant a user specific capabilities using a group, use the following syntax:

cap_setgroups username @GROUP_NAME

For example, to grant the "sys_admin" capability:

cap_setgroups user1 @sys_admin

Removing Capabilities from a User

To remove all capabilities from a user, use the -r option:

cap_setgroups -r username

Common Issues

Insufficient Privileges

To modify capabilities, the user must have the CAP_SETPCAP capability. If the command fails with an error, ensure that the user has the necessary privileges.

Invalid Group Name

Group names must exist in the capability groups database. If a non-existent group name is specified, the command will fail.


cap_setgroups can be combined with other commands to manage capabilities effectively. For example, you can use getcap to view the current capability settings for a process:

getcap user1

Related Commands

  • getcap – Display the capabilities of a process or file.
  • setcap – Set the capabilities of a file.
  • cap_enter – Enter a user namespace where a process has different capabilities.