Why do tools like
rm treat directories separately from regular files? They both require the user to explicitly specify she wants a recursive behavior, or else they won't deal with directories at all.
My first interaction (a while back) with computers was on a Windows/GUI/point-and-click/drag-and-drop environment, it always seemed natural that these operations would behave the same, regardless of the target.
This behavior particularly frustrates me when I give commands with wildcards. What if I want to remove everything in a directory (
*) except for non-empty subdirs?
I can only imagine that this is some sort of security feature to prevent the user from shooting herself in the foot, but this contradicts my understanding of a few Unix principles:
- Unix doesn't usually protect the user from herself. It has always assumed the user knows what she's doing.
- For Unix everything is a file. Isn't a directory just another file? Why are they treated differently?
- Is this behavior stemming from a technical limitation or is it a deliberate choice?
And in case of the latter,
- are there any historical accounts of the reasons which motivated this choice?