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11.5 rm: Remove files or directories

rm removes each given file. By default, it does not remove directories. Synopsis:

 
rm [option]... [file]...

If a file is unwritable, standard input is a terminal, and the `-f' or `--force' option is not given, or the `-i' or `--interactive' option is given, rm prompts the user for whether to remove the file. If the response does not begin with `y' or `Y', the file is skipped.

Warning: If you use rm to remove a file, it is usually possible to recover the contents of that file. If you want more assurance that the contents are truly unrecoverable, consider using shred.

The program accepts the following options. Also see 2. Common options.

`-d'
`--directory'
Attempt to remove directories using the unlink function rather than the rmdir function, and don't require a directory to be empty before trying to unlink it. This works only if you have appropriate privileges and if your operating system supports unlink for directories. Because unlinking a directory causes any files in the deleted directory to become unreferenced, it is wise to fsck the filesystem after doing this.

`-f'
`--force'
Ignore nonexistent files and never prompt the user. Ignore any previous `--interactive' (`-i') option.

`-i'
`--interactive'
Prompt whether to remove each file. If the response does not begin with `y' or `Y', the file is skipped. Ignore any previous `--force' (`-f') option.

`-r'
`-R'
`--recursive'
Remove the contents of directories recursively.

`-v'
`--verbose'
Print the name of each file before removing it.

One common question is how to remove files whose names begin with a `-'. GNU rm, like every program that uses the getopt function to parse its arguments, lets you use the `--' option to indicate that all following arguments are non-options. To remove a file called `-f' in the current directory, you could type either:

 
rm -- -f

or:

 
rm ./-f

The Unix rm program's use of a single `-' for this purpose predates the development of the getopt standard syntax.


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