I was reading up on similar questions on here about what happens when you delete a hardlink to a file and the majority of the answers I was getting were that the hardlink is deleted but the original stays. However during my testing, if I have

FileA.txt and LinkFileA.txt both in separate directories, if I rm -rfv the directory that contains LinkFileA.txt, it also goes and deletes the original. Example:

home/testing/dira/FileA.txt home/testing/dirb/LinkFileA.txt

rm -rfv home/testing/dirb/* deletes both the file in dirb and the file in dira.

Why is this?

  • Could you edit your question to show the output of the rm -rfv? I'm rather surprised by the behaviour you're seeing... May 7, 2016 at 13:39
  • 4
    This command shouldn't delete both files. A hardlink or a file is a reference to the inode of the file. A file becomes inaccessible when all these references are deleted.
    – magor
    May 7, 2016 at 13:51
  • 3
    mazs is right; this also means that there is no notion of an original file when you're using hard links — all hard links are equivalent. May 7, 2016 at 14:17
  • i think there is a problem with your deletion way. just for testing , create the file and hard link in the same directory , cd into that directory and delete the hard link , and see the result.
    – Ijaz Ahmad
    May 7, 2016 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


There does seem something strange about what you're doing. This is on Debian testing x86_64:

jlquinn@cerberus:~/tmp$ mkdir dira dirb  
jlquinn@cerberus:~/tmp$ touch dira/fileA.txt  
jlquinn@cerberus:~/tmp$ ln dira/fileA.txt dirb/fileAlink.txt  
jlquinn@cerberus:~/tmp$ rm -rfv dirb/*  
removed 'dirb/fileAlink.txt'  
jlquinn@cerberus:~/tmp$ ll dira  
total 0  
-rw-r--r-- 1 jlquinn jlquinn 0 May  7 13:46 fileA.txt  

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