Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Essential OS Basics 1: Deleting files & folders in Linux

This series of posts will contain a list of some very useful Linux commands that you might need every now and then. I’ll start with a small tutorial on how to delete files in linux.

1. Delete files and directories

rm command

Let us assume you want to delete some files in directory /usr/tmp . You first navigate to directory using command

cd /usr/tmp

Now if you want to delete a particular file use rm as following:

rm filename

or you can run following command from whichever directory you are in.

rm /usr/tmp/filename

But if you want to delete all the files in that directory, use rm as following:

rm *.*

To refine it further, if you want to delete only a few files but leave the rest, you’ll have to use wild-cards. I’ll explain it first using deleting by extension example. Let us assume that you have a collection of zip, mp3 and bin files (with extensions .zip, .mp3 and .bin respectively) and you want to delete only mp3 files, then execute :

rm *.mp3

It’ll delete all mp3 files file leaving all zip and bin files intact. But if you want to delete .bin files too, just add the extension like this:

rm *.mp3 *.bin

In order to delete directories, you have to modify it a little by adding -rf, If you have a directory named DIR which you want to delete, execute

rm -rf DIR

As posted earlier, you can use *.* wildcard to delete everything in the directory including all the sub-directories:

rm -rf *

Similarly you can delete files based upon their names too. Executing

rm a*.mp3

will delete all mp3 files which start with alphabet a, while

rm -rf a*

will delete every file and directory which starts with a

Apart from this, you might come across a scenario where you have to find and delete some type of files from multiple directories / folders. In this case I’m assuming that you need to delete all mp3 files located in various sub-folders inside /usr/tmp/. In such a case use find command

find /usr/tmp/ -type f -iname “mp3″ -delete


find /usr/tmp -type f -iname “mp3″ -exec rm -f {} \;

If you replace path /usr/tmp with just a / it’ll find and delete ALL mp3 files on your computer. So be careful

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