[lug] Odd Problem with rm and Symbolic Links

Davide Del Vento davide.del.vento at gmail.com
Sun Dec 29 07:38:23 MST 2013

That's right. And not only for rm but for all commands. Some commands then
ignore the difference, but there is one. Also do note that ls does not
ignore it. Try

ls <your favorite options> link


ls <your favorite options> link/

Note that the options must be the same to see the difference, since -d
changes the behavior of ls.


On Sat, Dec 28, 2013 at 8:38 PM, Orion Poplawski <orion at cora.nwra.com>wrote:

> On 12/28/2013 06:53 PM, stimits at comcast.net wrote:
>> I'm using Fedora 19, fully updated. I'd created a symbolic link with "ln
>> -s <real> <symbolic>", but ls -ld shows this as a directory, while a
>> simple ls -a --color=auto shows that this is indeed a symbolic link, and
>> if I use "ls -l" from the parent the output indicates it is a soft link
>> and where the link goes.
>> rm fails. If I go to "rm <link>" it tells me this is a directory...so
>> apparently ls -ld and rm agree, but ls -a --color=auto and ls -l from
>> parent DISagree with rm. If I use "rm -f <link>", it refuses, because it
>> is a directory.
>> If I use "rmdir <link>", it also refuses, because it is NOT a directory!
>> My only success is to "rm -Rf" the link. Sadly, this removes all of the
>> subdirectories the link pointed at...removing a symbolic link should not
>> remove what it points at! What gives? Was rm or the use of symbolic link
>> written to a different standard than I'm used to? Is there some new way
>> in fedora to remove a symbolic link without removing what it points to?
>> I have a backup of what it removed, but something seems drastically wrong.
>> Both rm and ln are provided by rpm coreutils-8.21-11.fc19.x86_64.
>> Filesystem is a single partition with ext4. Kernel is current
>> 3.12.5-200.fc19.x86_64.
> be aware that:
> rm link/
> and
> rm link
> are different.  Tab-completion (which adds the /) can be an issue here.
> --
> Orion Poplawski
> Technical Manager                     303-415-9701 x222
> NWRA/CoRA Division                    FAX: 303-415-9702
> 3380 Mitchell Lane                  orion at cora.nwra.com
> Boulder, CO 80301              http://www.cora.nwra.com
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