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Linux 2.6 - man page for rm (linux section 1posix)

RM(P)				    POSIX Programmer's Manual				    RM(P)

NAME
       rm - remove directory entries

SYNOPSIS
       rm [-fiRr] file...

DESCRIPTION
       The rm utility shall remove the directory entry specified by each file argument.

       If  either of the files dot or dot-dot are specified as the basename portion of an operand
       (that is, the final pathname component), rm shall write a diagnostic message  to  standard
       error and do nothing more with such operands.

       For each file the following steps shall be taken:

	1. If the file does not exist:

	    a. If the -f option is not specified, rm shall write a diagnostic message to standard
	       error.

	    b. Go on to any remaining files.

	2. If file is of type directory, the following steps shall be taken:

	    a. If neither the -R option nor the -r option is specified, rm shall write a diagnos-
	       tic message to standard error, do nothing more with file, and go on to any remain-
	       ing files.

	    b. If the -f option is not specified, and either the permissions of file do not  per-
	       mit writing and the standard input is a terminal or the -i option is specified, rm
	       shall write a prompt to standard error and read a line from the standard input. If
	       the  response  is  not affirmative, rm shall do nothing more with the current file
	       and go on to any remaining files.

	    c. For each entry contained in file, other than dot or dot-dot, the four steps listed
	       here  (1  to 4) shall be taken with the entry as if it were a file operand. The rm
	       utility shall not traverse directories by  following  symbolic  links  into  other
	       parts of the hierarchy, but shall remove the links themselves.

	    d. If  the -i option is specified, rm shall write a prompt to standard error and read
	       a line from the standard input.	If the response is not affirmative, rm	shall  do
	       nothing more with the current file, and go on to any remaining files.

	3. If  file is not of type directory, the -f option is not specified, and either the per-
	   missions of file do not permit writing and the standard input is a terminal or the  -i
	   option  is  specified,  rm  shall write a prompt to the standard error and read a line
	   from the standard input. If the response is not affirmative, rm shall do nothing  more
	   with the current file and go on to any remaining files.

	4. If the current file is a directory, rm shall perform actions equivalent to the rmdir()
	   function defined in the System Interfaces volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 called with a
	   pathname  of  the current file used as the path argument. If the current file is not a
	   directory, rm shall perform actions equivalent to the unlink() function defined in the
	   System Interfaces volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 called with a pathname of the current
	   file used as the path argument.

       If this fails for any reason, rm shall write a diagnostic message to  standard  error,  do
       nothing more with the current file, and go on to any remaining files.

       The rm utility shall be able to descend to arbitrary depths in a file hierarchy, and shall
       not fail due to path length limitations (unless an operand specified by the  user  exceeds
       system limitations).

OPTIONS
       The  rm utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Sec-
       tion 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines.

       The following options shall be supported:

       -f     Do not prompt for confirmation. Do not write diagnostic messages or modify the exit
	      status  in  the  case  of nonexistent operands.  Any previous occurrences of the -i
	      option shall be ignored.

       -i     Prompt for confirmation as described previously. Any previous occurrences of the -f
	      option shall be ignored.

       -R     Remove file hierarchies. See the DESCRIPTION.

       -r     Equivalent to -R.


OPERANDS
       The following operand shall be supported:

       file   A pathname of a directory entry to be removed.

STDIN
       The  standard  input shall be used to read an input line in response to each prompt speci-
       fied in the STDOUT section. Otherwise, the standard input shall not be used.

INPUT FILES
       None.

ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES
       The following environment variables shall affect the execution of rm:

       LANG   Provide a default value for the internationalization variables that  are	unset  or
	      null. (See the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Section 8.2, Inter-
	      nationalization Variables for the precedence of internationalization variables used
	      to determine the values of locale categories.)

       LC_ALL If  set  to a non-empty string value, override the values of all the other interna-
	      tionalization variables.

       LC_COLLATE

	      Determine the locale for the behavior of ranges, equivalence  classes,  and  multi-
	      character  collating  elements  used in the extended regular expression defined for
	      the yesexpr locale keyword in the LC_MESSAGES category.

       LC_CTYPE
	      Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of bytes of text  data  as
	      characters  (for	example, single-byte as opposed to multi-byte characters in argu-
	      ments) and the behavior of character classes within regular expressions used in the
	      extended	regular  expression defined for the yesexpr locale keyword in the LC_MES-
	      SAGES category.

       LC_MESSAGES
	      Determine the locale for the processing of affirmative  responses  that  should  be
	      used  to	affect the format and contents of diagnostic messages written to standard
	      error.

       NLSPATH
	      Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing of LC_MESSAGES .

ASYNCHRONOUS EVENTS
       Default.

STDOUT
       Not used.

STDERR
       Prompts shall be written to standard error under the conditions specified in the  DESCRIP-
       TION  and  OPTIONS sections. The prompts shall contain the file pathname, but their format
       is otherwise unspecified. The standard error also shall be used for diagnostic messages.

OUTPUT FILES
       None.

EXTENDED DESCRIPTION
       None.

EXIT STATUS
       The following exit values shall be returned:

	0     All of the named directory entries for which rm performed actions equivalent to the
	      rmdir() or unlink() functions were removed.

       >0     An error occurred.

CONSEQUENCES OF ERRORS
       Default.

       The following sections are informative.

APPLICATION USAGE
       The rm utility is forbidden to remove the names dot and dot-dot in order to avoid the con-
       sequences of inadvertently doing something like:

	      rm -r .*

       Some implementations do not permit the removal of the last link to  an  executable  binary
       file that is being executed; see the [EBUSY] error in the unlink() function defined in the
       System Interfaces volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001. Thus, the rm utility can fail to  remove
       such files.

       The  -i	option causes rm to prompt and read the standard input even if the standard input
       is not a terminal, but in the absence of -i the mode prompting is not done when the  stan-
       dard input is not a terminal.

EXAMPLES
	1. The following command:

	   rm a.out core

       removes the directory entries: a.out and core.

	2. The following command:

	   rm -Rf junk

       removes the directory junk and all its contents, without prompting.

RATIONALE
       For  absolute  clarity,	paragraphs  (2b)  and (3) in the DESCRIPTION of rm describing the
       behavior when prompting for confirmation, should be interpreted in the following manner:

	      if ((NOT f_option) AND
		  ((not_writable AND input_is_terminal) OR i_option))

       The exact format of the interactive prompts is unspecified. Only the general nature of the
       contents  of  prompts  are  specified  because implementations may desire more descriptive
       prompts than those used on historical implementations. Therefore, an application not using
       the  -f	option, or using the -i option, relies on the system to provide the most suitable
       dialog directly with the user, based on the behavior specified.

       The -r option is historical practice on all known systems. The synonym -R option  is  pro-
       vided for consistency with the other utilities in this volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 that
       provide options requesting recursive descent through the file hierarchy.

       The behavior of the -f option in historical versions of rm is  inconsistent.  In  general,
       along  with  "forcing" the unlink without prompting for permission, it always causes diag-
       nostic messages to be suppressed and the exit status to be unmodified for nonexistent  op-
       erands  and  files  that cannot be unlinked. In some versions, however, the -f option sup-
       presses usage messages and system errors as well. Suppressing such messages is not a  ser-
       vice to either shell scripts or users.

       It  is  less  clear  that error messages regarding files that cannot be unlinked (removed)
       should  be  suppressed.	Although  this	 is   historical   practice,   this   volume   of
       IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 does not permit the -f option to suppress such messages.

       When given the -r and -i options, historical versions of rm prompt the user twice for each
       directory, once before removing its contents and once before actually attempting to delete
       the  directory  entry  that  names  it. This allows the user to "prune" the file hierarchy
       walk. Historical versions of rm were inconsistent in that  some	did  not  do  the  former
       prompt for directories named on the command line and others had obscure prompting behavior
       when the -i option was specified and the permissions of the file did not  permit  writing.
       The  POSIX  Shell and Utilities rm differs little from historic practice, but does require
       that prompts be consistent. Historical versions of  rm  were  also  inconsistent  in  that
       prompts	 were	done  to  both	standard  output  and  standard  error.  This  volume  of
       IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 requires that prompts be done to standard error, for consistency with
       cp and mv, and to allow historical extensions to rm that provide an option to list deleted
       files on standard output.

       The rm utility is required to descend to arbitrary depths so that any file  hierarchy  may
       be  deleted.  This means, for example, that the rm utility cannot run out of file descrip-
       tors during its descent (that is, if the number of file descriptors is limited, rm  cannot
       be  implemented	in the historical fashion where one file descriptor is used per directory
       level). Also, rm is not permitted to fail because of path length restrictions,  unless  an
       operand specified by the user is longer than {PATH_MAX}.

       The rm utility removes symbolic links themselves, not the files they refer to, as a conse-
       quence of the dependence on the unlink() functionality, per the DESCRIPTION. When removing
       hierarchies  with  -r  or  -R,  the prohibition on following symbolic links has to be made
       explicit.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS
       None.

SEE ALSO
       rmdir() ,  the  System  Interfaces  volume  of  IEEE Std 1003.1-2001,  remove(),  rmdir(),
       unlink()

COPYRIGHT
       Portions  of  this  text  are  reprinted  and  reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std
       1003.1, 2003 Edition, Standard for Information Technology  --  Portable	Operating  System
       Interface  (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6, Copyright (C) 2001-2003 by
       the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and  The  Open  Group.  In  the
       event  of  any  discrepancy  between this version and the original IEEE and The Open Group
       Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard is the referee document. The orig-
       inal Standard can be obtained online at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .

IEEE/The Open Group			       2003					    RM(P)


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