RM(1) BSD General Commands Manual RM(1)NAMErm — remove directory entries
SYNOPSISrm [-f | -i] [-dPRrW] 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 writ‐
ing, 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 options.
-i Request confirmation before attempting to remove each file, regard‐
less of the file's permissions, or whether or not the standard
input device is a terminal. The -i option overrides any previous
-P Overwrite regular files before deleting them. Files are overwrit‐
ten 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 argument.
The -R option implies the -d option. If the -i option is speci‐
fied, 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 directory is skipped.
-r Equivalent to -R.
-W Attempts to undelete the named files. Currently, this option can
only be used to recover files covered by whiteouts.
The rm utility removes symbolic links, not the files referenced by the
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
SEE ALSOrmdir(1), undelete(2), unlink(2), fts(3), symlink(7)BUGS
The -P option assumes that the underlying file system is a fixed-block
file system. UFS is a fixed-block file system, LFS is not. 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 mask‐
ing a large variety of errors.
Also, historical BSD implementations prompted on the standard output, not
the standard error output.
The rm command is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”) compatible.
BSD December 5, 1994 BSD