rm - Linux


The rm (remove) command in Linux is used to delete files and directories from the filesystem. It is an essential tool for managing file space, removing redundant, outdated, or unnecessary files to keep the system organized. It can be used both interactively and in scripts, making it a powerful tool for both casual and advanced users.


The basic syntax of the rm command is:

rm [options] <file1> <file2> <file3> ...
  • <file1>, <file2>, <file3> ... : One or more files or directories to be deleted.

Additional variations include:

  • Delete multiple files: rm file1 file2 file3
  • Delete directories: rm -r directoryname


Here are some options that enhance the functionality of the rm command:

  • -f, --force: Ignore nonexistent files and arguments, never prompt.
  • -i: Prompt before every removal. This interactive mode helps prevent accidental deletions.
  • -r, -R, --recursive: Remove directories and their contents recursively, essential for deleting folders.
  • -v, --verbose: Display detailed output, showing which files are being deleted.
  • --no-preserve-root: Allows recursive deletion of /. Use with extreme caution.
  • --preserve-root: Default behavior; prevent recursive deletion of / (root directory).


  1. Delete a single file:
    rm file.txt
  2. Delete multiple files interactively:
    rm -i file1.txt file2.txt
  3. Forcefully remove a directory and its contents:
    rm -rf /path/to/directory
  4. Verbose deletion of multiple files:
    rm -v photo1.jpg photo2.jpg

Common Issues

  • Accidental Deletion: The rm command does not move items to a trash bin but permanently deletes them. Use -i to confirm each file before deletion.
  • Permission Denied: Running rm without sufficient permissions. Use sudo if necessary, but with caution.
  • Globbing Accidents: Commands like rm * can lead to unintended deletions if not used carefully within the correct directory.


Combine rm with other commands to perform complex file management tasks:

  • Find and Delete: Delete all .tmp files in a directory:
    find /path/to/dir -type f -name "*.tmp" -exec rm {} +
  • Using with xargs to handle a large number of files:
    find /path/to/dir -type f -name "*.log" | xargs rm
  • rmdir: Remove empty directories.
  • unlink: Remove a single file link.
  • find: Useful for finding files/directories based on specific criteria and deleting them with rm.

For additional details and further reading, refer to the official rm man page available via man rm in the terminal or the online documentation at GNU Coreutils RM.