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SubjectRe: ownership/permissions of cpio initrd
It appears to not be standard with fedora for sure... but while it 
origiginally was/is a Debian package it looks like there is source if
you'd like to build it on other systems. It was originally designed to
tackle the exact problem you are confronting.

See:
http://freshmeat.net/projects/fakeroot/

About:
Fakeroot runs a command in an environment were it appears to have root
privileges for file manipulation, by setting LD_PRELOAD to a library
with alternative versions of getuid(), stat(), etc. This is useful for
allowing users to create archives (tar, ar, .deb .rpm etc.) with files
in them with root permissions/ownership. Without fakeroot one would have
to have root privileges to create the constituent files of the archives
with the correct permissions and ownership, and then pack them up, or
one would have to construct the archives directly, without using the
archiver.

Horst H. von Brand wrote:
> Jeffrey Hundstad <jeffrey.hundstad@mnsu.edu> wrote:
>
>> You can also use fakeroot(1).
>>
>
> I think that is a debianism... not here on Fedora.
>
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