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RM(1)                       General Commands Manual                      RM(1)

     rm - remove directory entries

     rm [-f | -i] [-dPRrvWx] 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 with random data, before they are deleted.  Some
           care is taken to ensure that the data are actually written to disk,
           but this cannot be guaranteed, even on traditional filesystems; on
           log-structured filesystems or if any block-journaling scheme is in
           use, this option is completely useless.  If the file cannot be
           overwritten, it will not be removed.

     -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    Cause rm to be verbose, showing files as they are processed.

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

     -x    When removing a hierarchy, do not cross mount points.

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

     It is an error to attempt to remove the files ``.'' and ``..''.

     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 uses getopt(3) standard argument processing.  Removing filenames that
     begin with a dash (e.g., -file) in the current directory which might
     otherwise be taken as option flags to rm can be accomplished as follows:

     rm -- -file


     rm ./-file

     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.

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

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

     The rm utility is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 ("POSIX.2") compatible.
     The -v and -x options are extensions.

     The -P option attempts to conform to U.S. DoD 5220-22.M, "National
     Industrial Security Program Operating Manual" ("NISPOM") as updated by
     Change 2 and the July 23, 2003 "Clearing & Sanitization Matrix".
     However, unlike earlier revisions of NISPOM, the 2003 matrix imposes
     requirements which make it clear that the standard does not and can not
     apply to the erasure of individual files, in particular requirements
     relating to spare sector management for an entire magnetic disk.  Because
     these requirements are not met, the -P option does not conform to the

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

     The -P option assumes that the underlying file system is a fixed-block
     file system.  FFS is a fixed-block file system, LFS is not.  In addition,
     only regular files are overwritten, other types of files are not.  Recent
     research indicates that as many as 35 overwrite passes with carefully
     chosen data patterns may be necessary to actually prevent recovery of
     data from a magnetic disk.  Thus the -P option is likely both
     insufficient for its design purpose and far too costly for default
     operation.  However, it will at least prevent the recovery of data from
     FFS volumes with fsdb(8).

NetBSD 10.99                    August 12, 2016                   NetBSD 10.99