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RM(1)                      OpenBSD Reference Manual                      RM(1)

     rm - remove directory entries

     rm [-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 ex-
             ist, do not display a diagnostic message or modify the exit sta-
             tus to reflect an error.  The -f option overrides any previous -i

     -i      Request confirmation before attempting to remove each file, re-
             gardless of the file's permissions, or whether or not the stan-
             dard input device is a terminal.  The -i option overrides any
             previous -f options.

     -P      Overwrite regular files before deleting them.  Files are over-
             written three times, first with the byte pattern 0xff, then 0x00,
             and then 0xff again, before they are deleted.  Files with multi-
             ple links will not be overwritten.

     -R      Attempt to remove the file hierarchy rooted in each file argu-
             ment.  The -R option implies the -d option.  If the -i option is
             specified, the user is prompted for confirmation before each di-
             rectory'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.

     -W      Attempts to undelete the named files.  Currently, this option can
             only be used to recover files covered by whiteouts on union

     The rm utility removes symbolic links, not the files referenced by the

     It is an error to attempt to remove the files ``.'' or ``..''.  It is
     forbidden to remove the file ``..'' merely to avoid the antisocial conse-
     quences of inadvertently doing something like ``rm -r .*''.

     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.

     $ rm -rf foobar

     Recursively remove all files contained within the foobar directory hier-

     $ rm -- -f
     $ rm ./-f

     Either of these commands will remove the file -f.

     rmdir(1), unlink(2), fts(3), symlink(7)

     The rm utility differs from historical implementations in that the -f op-
     tion only masks attempts to remove non-existent files instead of masking
     a large variety of errors.

     Also, historical BSD implementations prompted on the standard output, not
     the standard error output.

     The interactive mode used to be a dsw command, a carryover from the an-
     cient past with an amusing etymology.

     The rm utility 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

     An rm command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.

     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.

OpenBSD 3.4                    December 5, 1994                              2


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