How to recursively delete a directory forcibly in Linux#

You probably know that rmdir is the bash shell command to delete directories in Linux. But the command will delete the directory only if it is empty.

$ rmdir boringpics
rmdir: boringpics/: Directory not empty

Would you need to manually traverse into a 10 level deep directory structure and delete the files in the subdirectories so that you can delete the top directory?

Can't there be a more intuitive way? The command below will delete the directory boringpics and its sub directories in a flash:

$ rm -rf boringpics

The -r option is used for recursing into the subdirectories. The -f forces the deletion of write protected files without prompting. If you are not sure about which files you want to delete, you might want to do someting like this:

$ rm -r boringpics

Did you notice that we used rm instead of rmdir to recursively delete a directory and its subdirectories? Looking strange? The use of rm for deleting a directory-as-we-know should come as no surprise because everything is a file in Linux - even you printer!


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