RM(1) Commands and Applications RM(1)
rm - remove directory entries
rm [-f|-i] [-dPRr] file...
The rm utility attempts to remove the non-directory type files speci-
fied 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:
-d Attempt to remove directories as well as other types of files.
-f 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 previ-
ous -i options.
-i 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.
-P Overwrite regular files before deleting them. Files are over-
written three times, first with the byte pattern 0xff, then
0x00, and then 0xff again, before they are deleted.
-R Attempt to remove the file hierarchy rooted in each file argu-
ment. The -R option implies the -d option. If the -i option is
specified, the user is prompted for confirmation before each
directory's contents are processed (as well as before the
attempt is made to remove the directory). If the user does not
respond affirmatively, the file hierarchy rooted in that direc-
tory is skipped.
-r Equivalent to -R.
It is an error to attempt to remove the files ''.'' and ''..''.
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.
The rm command uses getopt(3) to parse its arguments, which allows it
to accept the -- option which will cause it to stop processing flag
options at that point. This will allow the removal of file names that
begin with a dash (-). For example:
rm -- -filename
The same behavior can be obtained by using an absolute or relative path
reference. For example:
This is useful for commands that do not use getopt(3) to parse the com-
mand line arguments.
rmdir(1), unlink(2), fts(3), getopt(3)
The -P option assumes that the underlying file system is a fixed-block
file system. In addition, only regular files are overwritten, other
types of files are not.
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 implementations prompted on the standard output, not
the standard error output.
The rm command is expected to be POSIX-2 compatible.
This manual page documents GNO rm version 1.0.
This command was ported from FreeBSD source code for distribution with
This is the first version of rm to be released with GNO. Previously,
the file removal function was accomplished via an option to the cp com-
GNO May 1999 RM(1)
Man(1) output converted with