Home » Linux Basics » How to delete a file

How to delete a file

How do I delete a file under Linux  operating system?

To remove a file or directory in Linux use the rm command.

rm command syntax

rm (short for remove) is a Unix / Linux command which is used to delete files from a filesystem. Usually, on most filesystems, deleting a file requires write permission on the parent directory (and execute permission, in order to enter the directory in the first place). The syntax is as follows:

rm -f -r {file-name}

Where,

  • -f: Forcefully remove file
  • -r: Remove the contents of directories recursively

Remove or Delete a File

To remove a file called abc.txt type the following command:
$ rm abc.txt

To remove all files & subdirectories from a directory (MS-DOS deltree like command), enter:
$ rm -rf mydir

To remove empty directory use rmdir and not rm command:
$ rmdir mydirectory

Read a List of All Files To Delete From a Text File

The rm command is often used in conjunction with xargs to supply a list of files to delete. Create a file called file.txt:
$ cat file.txt
List of to delete:

file1
/tmp/file2.txt
~/data.txt

Now delete all file listed in file.txt, enter:
$ xargs rm < file.txt

Never run rm -rf / as an administrator or normal Linux user

WARNING!  These examples will delete all files on your computer if executed.
$ rm -rf /
$ rm -rf *

rm -rf (variously, rm -rf /, rm -rf *, and others) is frequently used in jokes and anecdotes about Linux disasters. The rm -rf / variant of the command, if run by an administrator, would cause the contents of every writable mounted filesystem on the computer to be deleted. Do not try these commands.

Originally posted 2016-03-07 02:15:51.

About admin

I have been working with Linux based systems since 2002. I hope the article published on this site will be useful to those new to server administration.