I’m pretty sure the -R flag does work – it always has for me anyway. What won’t work, and what tripped me up early in my command line usage, is using * in a directory with hidden files/directories. So doing

$ chown -R /home/user/*

will not do the hidden files and directories. However if you follow it with

$ chown -R /home/user/.[^.]*

then you will do all the hidden files, (but not . or .. as /home/user/.* would do). Having said all that, I would expect

$ chown -R /home/user

to get all the hidden files and directories inside /home/user – though that will of course also change the permissions of the directory itself, which might not be what you intended.

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