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RM(1) General Commands Manual RM(1)

rmremove directory entries

rm [-dfiPRr] file ...

The 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 confirmation.

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 -f option overrides any previous -i options.
Request confirmation before attempting to remove each file, regardless of the file's permissions, or whether or not the standard input device is a terminal. The -i option overrides any previous -f options.
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 -R option implies the -d option. If the -i option 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 -R.

The rm utility removes symbolic links, not the files referenced by the links.

It is an error to attempt to remove the root directory or the files “.” or “..”. It is forbidden to remove the file “..” merely to avoid the antisocial consequences of inadvertently doing something like “rm -r .*”.

The rm utility exits 0 if all of the named files or file hierarchies were removed, or if the -f option was specified and all of the existing files or file hierarchies were removed. If an error occurs, rm exits with a value >0.

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)

The rm utility is compliant with the IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”) specification.

The flags [-dP] are extensions to that specification.

An rm command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.

The 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 errors.

Also, historical BSD implementations prompted on the standard output, not the standard error output.

The interactive mode used to be a dsw command, a carryover from the ancient past with an amusing etymology.

The -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.

April 15, 2016 OpenBSD-6.0