While wanting to upgrade MongoDB from 3.4 to 3.6 I went into the /etc/apt/sources.list.d directory. From there I wanted to move the mongodb-org-3.4.list and mongodb-org-3.4.list.save files to my home directory.

I first executed a mv mongodb-org-3.4 ~/*. For some reason I managed to move the wildcard to the end of the command. After seeing the notification mv: cannot stat 'mongodb-org-3.4': No such file or directory, I then "corrected" this by typing mv mongodb-org-3.4* ~/*, again with the wildcard at the end. I did not use sudo, I was not root.

As a response for mv mongodb-org-3.4* ~/* I got

mv: cannot remove 'mongodb-org-3.4.list': Permission denied
mv: cannot remove 'mongodb-org-3.4.list.save': Permission denied
mv: inter-device move failed: '/home/user/atlassian' to '/home/user/windows-storage/atlassian'; unable to remove target: Directory not empty
mv: inter-device move failed: '/home/user/data' to '/home/user/windows-storage/data'; unable to remove target: Directory not empty
mv: cannot create symbolic link '/home/user/windows-storage/dockervolumes/sharemanager': Read-only file system

I then went into the /home/user/windows-storage directory and ls'd it, only to find that probably all of my home directory got copied (???) to this mounted directory.

Have I damaged something? Or have I "only" copied the home directory to this mounted directory?

Why did this mv command somehow behave like cp?

Ok, turns out files were moved, but not all, since I Ctrl+\ because it was taking an unusually long time to finish

1 Answer 1


The asterisks were expanded by your shell, so the resulting command was

mv mongodb-org-3.4.list mongodb-org-3.4.list.save ... ~/atlassian ~/... ~/data ... ~/windows-storage

(based on the errors you posted). Thus you instructed mv to move all the listed files and directories into ~/windows-storage — your home directory’s contents haven’t been copied, they’ve been moved.

To recover, you’ll need to look at all the contents of ~/windows-storage, and move whatever is appropriate back (taking care with *).

  • Now I'm a bit scared.
    – Daniel F
    Dec 7, 2017 at 10:34
  • 1
    This is one of the reasons I always have set -x in my interactive shell sessions... :-)
    – Kusalananda
    Dec 7, 2017 at 10:35
  • @Daniel I don’t think you’ll have lost any of the data that was in your home directory, but you might well have overwritten data in ~/windows-storage. Whatever you do, don’t panic. Dec 7, 2017 at 10:37
  • Ok, i've lost file metadata since they got moved onto an ntfs volume, also the timestamps changed. On 100mb rrd (rrdtool) got lost, because during the mv I ctrl+\ 'd which probalbly was during the move of that file so it only got moved halfway, and when moving all back that truncated file probably overwrote the original one. At least I hope that this is the only problem. I had to chmod -R three dirs, which I hope won't cause any problems, since some were docker volumes mounted inside containers. Reminds me of my rm -rf ~ while trying to recursively delete a directory named ~...
    – Daniel F
    Dec 7, 2017 at 12:21

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