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man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: July 2017



setlabel - change effective sensitivity label of files


/usr/bin/setlabel newlabel filename...


In most cases, setlabel moves files into the zone whose label corresponds to newlabel. The old file pathname is adjusted so that it is relative to the root pathname of the new zone. If the old pathname for a file's parent directory does not exist as a directory in the new zone, the file is not moved. Once moved, the file might no longer be accessible in the current zone.

However, setlabel behaves differently for files and directories which are on multilevel ZFS file systems. Refer to zfs(1M). In that case, files are not moved, but are re-labeled in place, since multilevel file systems support per-file labels.

Unless newlabel and filename have been specified, no labels are set.

Labels are defined by the security administrator at your site. The system always displays labels in uppercase. Users can enter labels in any combination of uppercase and lowercase. Incremental changes to labels are supported.

Refer to setflabel(3TSOL) for a complete description of the conditions that are required to satisfy this command, and the privileges that are needed to execute this command.

Exit Status

setlabel exits with one of the following values:


Successful completion.


Usage error.


Error in getting, setting or translating the label.


On the command line, enclose the label in double quotes unless the label is only one word. Without quotes, a second word or letter separated by a space is interpreted as a second argument.

% setlabel SECRET somefile
% setlabel "TOP SECRET" somefile

Use any combination of upper and lowercase letters. You can separate items in a label with blanks, tabs, commas or slashes (/). Do not use any other punctuation.

% setlabel "ts a b" somefile
% setlabel "ts,a,b" somefile
% setlabel "ts/a b" somefile
% setlabel " TOP SECRET A B   " somefile


Example 1 Set a Label.

To set somefile's label to SECRET A:

example% setlabel "Secret a" somefile
Example 2 Turn On a Compartment.

Plus and minus signs can be used to modify an existing label. A plus sign turns on the specified compartment for somefile's label.

example% setlabel +b somefile
Example 3 Turn Off a Compartment.

A minus sign turns off the compartments that are associated with a classification. To turn off compartment A in somefile's label:

example% setlabel -A somefile

If an incremental change is being made to an existing label and the first character of the label is a hyphen (), a preceding double-hyphen (–-) is required.

To turn off compartment -A in somefile's label:

example% setlabel -- -A somefile


See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following attributes:

Interface Stability

See Also

zfs(1M), setflabel(3TSOL), label_encodings(4), attributes(5)


The functionality described on this manual page is available only if the system is configured with Trusted Extensions.

This implementation of setting a label is meaningful for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Mandatory Access Control (MAC) policy. For more information, see label_encodings(4).