RM(1) General Commands Manual RM(1)
rm - remove directory entries
rm [-dfiPRrv] 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:
-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 previous
-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
overwritten once with a random pattern. Files with multiple
links will be unlinked but not overwritten.
-R 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.
-r Equivalent to -R.
-v Display each file name after it was removed.
The rm utility removes symbolic links, not the files referenced by the
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
Recursively remove all files contained within the foobar directory
$ 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")
The flags [-dPv] 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
OpenBSD 6.2 June 28, 2017 OpenBSD 6.2
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