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In bash all I know is that

rmdir directoryname

will remove the directory but only if it's empty. Is there a way to force remove subdirectories?

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up vote 85 down vote accepted

The following command will do it for you. Use caution though.

rm -rf directoryname
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"-f" is "--force" which overrides some sanity checks and prompting. A safer command to start with would be rm -r directoryname. – Jim Paris Aug 17 '12 at 3:35
For some reason I get a rm: invalid option -- r error when trying to delete a directory with rm -r <directoryname>. – Sunspawn May 26 '15 at 15:58

if rm -rf directoryname fails you, try using rm -R -f directoryname, or rm --recursive -f directoryname.

If you are not having any luck with these, you should consider reinstalling rm or switching shells.

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These were the options available on my rm man page, I looked it up by typing man rm to view my options on recursive deletion and the force options. – saterHater Nov 11 '15 at 18:38
Does your rm man page list -r?  What does it do?  (Try it in a directory that you create just for testing purposes, with only dummy files (and maybe subdirectories) in it.)  What operating system are you using? – G-Man Nov 11 '15 at 19:08
P.S. If rm -r doesn't work, that would be an OS issue, not a shell issue. (Strictly speaking, it would be an issue with the version of rm that you're using, so you could address it by installing a different version of rm, or searching your system to see whether you already have a different version of rm in some directory other than /bin.) – G-Man Nov 11 '15 at 21:34
Ah, right. I forgot to mention I'm on Ubuntu 14.04 When I ran man rm in my terminal, it gave me a text file with the less text viewer. I scrolled found an indented entry with a whole that had the -R and --recursive options cozied up with the -r option, signifying that all of those arguments are identical. – saterHater Nov 11 '15 at 22:38
edit: have you tried sudo rm -r directoryName? The unwritten rules of the basic commands is that -r will allow a program to run recursively on every file your filesystem (starting where ever you choose!) and that -f will forcefully do things, even if it's dangerous. 'cd', 'mv', 'ls' mostly holds this principle true. ls -r / is gonna be a duzie, and cp -rf / /dev/null will destroy everything on your filesystem. <--Never run that command! – saterHater Nov 11 '15 at 22:49

protected by Community Nov 11 '15 at 22:49

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