remove directory entries
rm utility attempts to remove the
non-directory type files specified on the command line. If the permissions
of the file do not permit writing, and the standard input device is a
terminal, the user is prompted (on the standard error output) for
The options are as follows:
- Attempt to remove directories as well as other types of files.
- Attempt to remove the files without prompting for confirmation, regardless
of the file's permissions. If the file does not exist, do not display a
diagnostic message or modify the exit status to reflect an error. The
-foption overrides any previous
- Request confirmation before attempting to remove each file, regardless of
the file's permissions, or whether or not the standard input device is a
-ioption overrides any previous
- Overwrite regular files before deleting them. Files are overwritten once with a random pattern. Files with multiple links will be unlinked but not overwritten.
- Attempt to remove the file hierarchy rooted in each file argument. The
-Roption implies the
-doption. If the
-ioption is specified, the user is prompted for confirmation before each directory (and its contents) are processed. If the user does not respond affirmatively, the file hierarchy rooted in that directory is skipped.
- Equivalent to
rm utility removes symbolic links, not
the files referenced by the links.
It is an error to attempt to remove the files “.” or
“..”. It is forbidden to remove the file “..”
merely to avoid the antisocial consequences of inadvertently doing something
rm -r .*”.
rm utility exits 0 if all of the named
files or file hierarchies were removed, or if the
option was specified and all of the existing files or file hierarchies were
removed. If an error occurs,
rm exits with a value
Recursively remove all files contained within the foobar directory hierarchy:
$ rm -rf foobar
Either of these commands will remove the file -f:
$ rm -- -f $ rm ./-f
rmdir(1), unlink(2), fts(3), symlink(7)
rm utility is compliant with the
IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”)
The flags [
-dP] are extensions to that
rm command appeared in
Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
rm utility differs from historical
implementations in that the
-f option only masks
attempts to remove non-existent files instead of masking a large variety of
Also, historical BSD implementations prompted on the standard output, not the standard error output.
The interactive mode used to be a
command, a carryover from the ancient past with an amusing etymology.
-P option assumes that both the
underlying file system and storage medium write in place. This is true for
the FFS and MS-DOS file systems and magnetic hard disks, but not true for
most flash storage. In addition, only regular files are overwritten; other
types of files are not.