12 Most Popular rm command in Linux with examples

In this article, I will take you through 12 Most Popular rm command in Linux with examples. Sometimes you might get asked what is the Linux command for removing a directory or what command do you use to delete a file. Answers of all these questions is rm linux command.

You might be aware of rm linux command as this is the most basic command we use to delete files and directories from command line.

What does rm stand for in Linux

rm stand for remove. It basically removes files and directories in Linux.

12 Most Popular rm command in Linux with examples 1

rm command in Linux with examples

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Example 1: Check rm linux command version

You can check rm command version by using --version option as shown below. As you can check from below output, current version is 8.22.

[root@localhost ~]# rm --version
rm (GNU coreutils) 8.22
Copyright (C) 2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Written by Paul Rubin, David MacKenzie, Richard M. Stallman,
and Jim Meyering.

--version : output version information and exit

Example 2: Remove a File Using rm command

You can simply remove a file download.txt by using rm command as shown below. Please note that by default it will ask you for confirmation before removing the file.

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[root@localhost ~]# rm download.txt
rm: remove regular file ‘download.txt’? y

Example 3: Using rm options -i to interactively delete file

You can use rm flag -i to interactively delete the file as shown below.  By default this option will be enabled.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -i file.txt
rm: remove regular file ‘file.txt’? y

-i : prompt before every removal

Example 4: Using rm options -f to delete a file without confirmation

If you do not want rm command to ask for a confirmation before deleting a file you can use -f option to forcefully delete it as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -f file.txt

-f : ignore nonexistent files and arguments, never prompt

Example 5: Using rm command  option -v to verbose the output

If you want to see the output of rm command then you need to use -v option to show the output as mentioned in below example.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -v file1.txt
rm: remove regular empty file ‘file1.txt’? y
removed ‘file1.txt’

-v : explain what is being done

Example 6: Remove an empty directory without using rm command -d flag

You can simply delete empty directory by using rm -rvf hello command as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -rvf hello
removed directory: ‘hello’

-r : remove directories and their contents recursively

Example 7: Using rm options -r in Linux to delete files recursively along with directory

If you want to recursively delete all the files and directory along with its sub-directories then you need to use -r flag with rm command as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -rvf example
removed ‘example/file.txt’
removed ‘example/file2.txt’
removed directory: ‘example’

Example 8: Using rm command in Linux to remove everything from current directory

You can also use wildcard(*) character to delete all the files and directories. In this example, we are trying to delete all files and sub directories from hello directory as shown below.

[root@localhost hello]# rm -vf *
removed ‘file1.txt’
removed ‘file2.txt’
removed ‘file.txt’

Example 9 : Remove Empty Directories

If you want to remove empty directories then you need to use -d flag with rm command in Linux as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -vd hello
rm: remove directory ‘hello’? y
removed directory: ‘hello’

-d : Remove empty directories

If directory is not empty then it will throw below error.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -vd hello
rm: cannot remove ‘hello’: Directory not empty

Example 10 : Preserve root file system

If you do not want to recursively delete everything from root(/) filesystem then you need to use --preserve-root option as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -rf --preserve-root /

By default it will run with --preserve-root option.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -rf /
rm: it is dangerous to operate recursively on ‘/’
rm: use --no-preserve-root to override this failsafe

--preserve-root : do not remove ‘/’

Example 11 : Do not preserve root filesystem

If you want to recursively delete everything from root(/) filesystem then you need to use --no-preserve-root option with rm command as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm -rf --no-preserve-root /

--no-preserve-root : do not treat ‘/’ specially

NOTE:

Please note that this command will delete all the system files which is present inside root partition along with all the different mounted files present in root partition.

Example 12. Check Other Options with –help

You can check all the other rm options that can be used using --help flag as shown below.

[root@localhost ~]# rm --help
Usage: rm [OPTION]... FILE...
Remove (unlink) the FILE(s).

-f, --force ignore nonexistent files and arguments, never prompt
-i prompt before every removal
-I prompt once before removing more than three files, or
when removing recursively; less intrusive than -i,
while still giving protection against most mistakes
--interactive[=WHEN] prompt according to WHEN: never, once (-I), or
always (-i); without WHEN, prompt always
--one-file-system when removing a hierarchy recursively, skip any
directory that is on a file system different from
that of the corresponding command line argument
--no-preserve-root do not treat '/' specially
--preserve-root do not remove '/' (default)
-r, -R, --recursive remove directories and their contents recursively
-d, --dir remove empty directories
-v, --verbose explain what is being done
--help display this help and exit
--version output version information and exit

By default, rm does not remove directories. Use the --recursive (-r or -R)
option to remove each listed directory, too, along with all of its contents.

To remove a file whose name starts with a '-', for example '-foo',
use one of these commands:
rm -- -foo

rm ./-foo

Note that if you use rm to remove a file, it might be possible to recover
some of its contents, given sufficient expertise and/or time. For greater
assurance that the contents are truly unrecoverable, consider using shred.

GNU coreutils online help: <http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/>
For complete documentation, run: info coreutils 'rm invocation'

--help : display this help and exit

 

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