RM(1) BSD General Commands Manual RM(1)
rm, unlink -- remove directory entries
rm [-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 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 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
-r Equivalent to -R.
-v Be verbose when deleting files, showing them as they are removed.
-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 links.
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 simple mode of operation, which performs an
unlink(2) operation on the passed argument.
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
rmdir(1), undelete(2), unlink(2), fts(3), getopt(3), symlink(7)
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. 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
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 implementa-
tion requires the -d option if such behavior is desired. This follows the historical behav-
ior of rm with respect to directories.
The simplified unlink command conforms to Version 2 of the Single UNIX Specification
A rm command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
BSD January 28, 1999 BSD