RM(1) BSD General Commands Manual RM(1)NAME
rm, unlink — remove directory entries
SYNOPSISrm [-dfiPRrvW] 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
-f Attempt to remove the files without prompting for confirma‐
tion, 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,
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 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 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 directory is skipped.
-r Equivalent to -R.
-v Be verbose when deleting files, showing them as they are
-W Attempt 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 “.” or “..”.
When the utility is called as unlink, only one argument, which must not
be a directory, may be supplied. No options may be supplied in this sim‐
ple mode of operation, which performs an unlink(2) operation on the
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
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:
The same behavior can be obtained by using an absolute or relative path
reference. For example:
SEE ALSOrmdir(1), undelete(2), unlink(2), fts(3), getopt(3), symlink(7)BUGS
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 mask‐
ing a large variety of errors. The -v option is non-standard and its use
in scripts is not recommended.
Also, historical BSD implementations prompted on the standard output, not
the standard error output.
The rm command is almost IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”) compatible, except
that POSIX requires rm to act like rmdir(1) when the file specified is a
directory. This implementation requires the -d option if such behavior
is desired. This follows the historical behavior of rm with respect to
The simplified unlink command conforms to Version 2 of the Single UNIX
A rm command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
BSD January 28, 1999 BSD