Permission denied for certain programs


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Sep 7, 2023
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I'm working on a Raspberry Pi using Raspbian, but I'm not sure if my problem is HW related. I'm writing a program that communicates with an external device via uart. That device is connected via USB and has an FTDI chip. The problem is, that my program cannot open a connection to that external device. I get a permission denied error. If I run the program with sudo it works.
The crazy thing is, that I can echo to the device file, and I can cat it without sudo. I'm using a Segger JLink probe to flash firmware to that device. The program that communicates with the probe also doesn't work without sudo on the raspberry, while not making any problems on any other Linux system that I've heard of.

To add insult to injury, after a fresh install everything worked. I rebooted, ran my tests, everything worked. This morning, I made a small change to the source code, and wanted to test it again, and I'm seeing the problem again. I've had this a lot in the past. I ignored it mostly because using sudo was an option, but now I'd like to clean that up. I've seen this with two different Raspberries over multiple fresh installs, sometimes this behavior is shown from the beginning (i.e. immediately after installation), sometimes it starts after a while. There is a third one that hasn't shown this behavior a single time so far. All Raspberries are 4B+ models.

Permissions are alright:
neuro@raspberrypi:~ $ ll /dev/ttyUSB0
crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 Sep  7 08:25 /dev/ttyUSB0
neuro@raspberrypi:~ $ groups
neuro adm tty dialout cdrom sudo audio video plugdev games users input render netdev lpadmin gpio i2c spi
neuro@raspberrypi:~ $ echo hi > /dev/ttyUSB0
neuro@raspberrypi:~ $ cat /dev/ttyUSB0

All of this is completely nonsensical, and I googled myself to death, not finding any hint. If anyone has a creative idea what could cause this, I'd be very happy.

Short summary:
echo and cat can access the device, my software cannot (except when used with sudo). Another program and another device, that are commonly used in embedded development also exhibit this behavior. These problems only happen on 2 out of 3 pies, and they randomly start occurring at some point, possibly immediately after a fresh installation.

Editing -- I am beginning to see the nuances

Make sure your program and all its dependencies (e,g.: daemons and systemd services) are running under a user that is also in the right group.

Then, check the documentation for any indications on whether or not the setuid and segid should be set or not -- check
Last edited:
Hey, thanks for your attempt to help me.

The problem is something else, though. Currently, I run the program by hand, and I can do it in a way that there are no other dependencies involved that might run under another user. So it runs with my privileges. Nonetheless, I tried setting chmod to 6755, which didn't help, strangely not even when I set the owner to root.

I noticed that I had been imprecise when saying that I can't open a connection (mainly because I didn't realize it myself until now). Opening a connection involves scanning all available devices to find the right one to connect to. It's this scanning step that produces the permission denied error.

If I open /dev/ttyUSB0 directly, without scanning for the correct device, it works. I'm currently trying to figure out why that scanning process is getting a permission denied error.

The software is written in Rust and uses serialport-rs, which on Linux uses libudev under the hood. The function that produces the permission error is udev_enumerate_scan_devices. I'm now trying to find out what it actually does, and which permission is missing, but I thought I post an update first.

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