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Thanks for the help. The dumpe2fs command and grep-ing for default mount options gave me the clue. It is showing none, but I umounted the device, and then mounted it with -o acl option; then, when I do a mount | grep acl, the device is now mounted with acl supported and allows the setfacl operation.
Thanks for your suggestion, I did exactly that, and it worked. The dumpe32fs set off a train of thought, so then I grepped the mount output for acl and showed none, I figured it hadn't mounted properly from fstab. Mounting directly, with -o acl was the answer.
I was searching for help and found this post, which I know is a bit old, but I thought I would add my comment for future viewers.
I used the dumpe2fs command and did find that there were no specific mount options set against my filesystem. I added "acl" option to fstab and re-mounted. Dumpe2fs still showed no options set. I decided to check with the mount command and it now showed the acl flag as set:
dumpe2fs /dev/sda3|grep -i "default mount options"
dumpe2fs 1.41.12 (17-May-2010)
Default mount options: (none)
/dev/sda3 on /home type ext4 (rw,acl)