The rm utility removes the directory entry specified by each file argument. If a file has no write permission and the standard input is a terminal, the full set of permissions (in octal) for the file are printed followed by a question mark. This is a prompt for confirmation. If the answer begins with y (for yes), the file is deleted, otherwise the file remains.
If file is a symbolic link, the link will be removed, but the file or directory to which it refers will not be deleted. Users do not need write permission to remove a symbolic link, provided they have write permissions in the directory.
If multiple files are specified and removal of a file fails for any reason, rm will write a diagnostic message to standard error, do nothing more to the current file, and go on to any remaining files.
If the standard input is not a terminal, the utility will operate as if the -f option is in effect.
The rmdir utility will remove the directory entry specified by each dirname operand, which must refer to an empty directory.
Directories will be processed in the order specified. If a directory and a subdirectory of that directory are specified in a single invocation of rmdir, the subdirectory must be specified before the parent directory so that the parent directory will be empty when rmdir tries to remove it.
The following options are supported for /usr/bin/rm and /usr/xpg4/bin/rm:
Recursively removes directories and subdirectories in the argument list. The directory will be emptied of files and removed. The user is normally prompted for removal of any write-protected files which the directory contains. The write-protected files are removed without prompting, however, if the -f option is used, or if the standard input is not a terminal and the -i option is not used.
Symbolic links that are encountered with this option will not be traversed.
If the removal of a non-empty, write-protected directory is attempted, the utility will always fail (even if the -f option is used), resulting in an error message.
Same as -r option.
The following options are supported for /usr/bin/rm only:
Removes all files (whether write-protected or not) in a directory without prompting the user. In a write-protected directory, however, files are never removed (whatever their permissions are), but no messages are displayed. If the removal of a write-protected directory is attempted, this option will not suppress an error message.
Interactive. With this option, rm prompts for confirmation before removing any files. It overrides the -f option and remains in effect even if the standard input is not a terminal.
The following options are supported for /usr/xpg4/bin/rm only:
Does not prompt for confirmation. Does not write diagnostic messages or modify the exit status in the case of non-existent operands. Any previous occurrences of the -i option will be ignored.
Prompts for confirmation. Any occurrences of the -f option will be ignored.
The following options are supported for /usr/bin/rmdir only:
Allows users to remove the directory dirname and its parent directories which become empty. A message is printed to standard error if all or part of the path could not be removed.
Suppresses the message printed on the standard error when -p is in effect.
The following operands are supported:
A path name of a directory entry to be removed.
A path name of an empty directory to be removed.
See largefile(5) for the description of the behavior of rm and rmdir when encountering files greater than or equal to 2 Gbyte ( 231 bytes).
The following command:
example% rm a.out core
removes the directory entries a.out and core.
The following command:
example% rm -rf junk
removes the directory junk and all its contents, without prompting.
See environ(5) for descriptions of the following environment variables that affect the execution of rm and rmdir: LANG, LC_ALL, LC_COLLATE, LC_CTYPE, LC_MESSAGES, and NLSPATH.
The following exit values are returned:
If the -f option was not specified, all the named directory entries were removed; otherwise, all the existing named directory entries were removed.
An error occurred.
See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following attributes:
All messages are generally self-explanatory.
It is forbidden to remove the files "." and ". ." in order to avoid the consequences of inadvertently doing something like the following:
example% rm -r .*
A - permits the user to mark explicitly the end of any command line options, allowing rm to recognize file arguments that begin with a -. As an aid to BSD migration, rm will accept - - as a synonym for -. This migration aid may disappear in a future release. If a - - and a - both appear on the same command line, the second will be interpreted as a file.