The rmdir command can be used to remove directories. Let's say you want to remove the /tmp/foo directory. The rmdir command followed by /tmp/foo can be used to remove the directory.
Before removing a directory, you may want to use the ls (list) command with the -A or --almost-all flag piped to the wc (word count) command to determine if a directory is empty. This will return hidden files in the directory to ensure a directory containing hidden files is not empty. If the directory is empty, 0 0 0 should be returned.
~]# ls -A /tmp/foo | wc 0 0 0
If the /tmp/foo directory is empty, it will be removed, and the rmdir command will not produce any output. The ls (list) command with the -d or --directory flag can be used to determine if the directory was removed. If the directory was removed, and no longer exists, the following should be returned.
~]# ls -d /tmp/foo ls: cannot access /tmp/foo: No such file or directory
The --ignore-fail-on-non-empty option can be used to not display an error if the rmdir command fails to remove a directory because it is not empty. The directory will not be removed.
rmdir --ignore-fail-on-non-empty /tmp/foo
Remove a directory that is not empty
The ls (list) command with the -A or --almost-all flag piped to the wc (word count) command can be used to determine if a directory is empty. This will return hidden files in the directory to ensure a directory containing hidden files is not empty. If the directory contains files or sub directories, values greater than 0 0 0 should be returned.
~]# ls -A /tmp/foo | wc 1 1 12
Attempting to remove a directory that contains one or more files or subdirectories will return the following.
~]# rmdir /tmp/bar rmdir: failed to remove '/tmp/bar': Directory not empty
The rm command with the -r (recursive) and -f (force) flags can be used to remove directories that are not empty. This will remove the directory and everything at and below the directory.
rm -rf /tmp/bar
Remove another users file
By default, you can remove empty directories you own, and you cannot remove empty directories you do not own. For example, if jane.doe attempts to remove /home/john.doe/bin, which is owned by john.doe, an error will appear.
[jane.doe@server1 ~]# rmdir /home/john.doe/bin rmdir: cannot remove '/home/john.doe/bin': Permission denied
If jane.doe is a member of the sudo group, jane.doe can remove the empty directory using the sudo command.
[jane.doe@server1 ~]# sudo rmdir /home/john.doe/bin
Root can remove any empty directory without having to use sudo.
[root@server1 ~]# rmdir /home/john.doe/bin
Remove directory that begins with a dash (-)
If there is a directory that starts with a dash, use this command.
rm -rf ./-16383792982