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A chroot on Unix operating systems is an operation that changes the apparent disk root directory for the current running process and its children. A program that is re-rooted to another directory cannot access or name files outside that directory, called a chroot jail.

chroot allows you to pass commands to another root (for example you can pass commands to your hard disk root after booting with a Live CD).

Syntax is as follows:

chroot <path of the target root> command 

For example:

chroot /mnt/hda1 apt-get install network-manager 

This command will install network-manager on the hard drive. hda1 has to be mounted for this command to work.

Chroot Wikipedia entry

One possible use of chroot is to repair an unbootable system

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