[lug] Odd Problem with rm and Symbolic Links

stimits at comcast.net stimits at comcast.net
Sun Dec 29 09:36:41 MST 2013

This must have been the issue. Normally such things would seem obvious, but I use tab completion a lot, especially when I'm tired of typing long names. If there had been a real bug I imagine one like this would fill bug reports instantly.

----- Original Message -----
From: Davide Del Vento 
To: Boulder (Colorado) Linux Users Group -- General Mailing List 
Sent: Sun, 29 Dec 2013 14:38:23 -0000 (UTC)
Subject: Re: [lug] Odd Problem with rm and Symbolic Links

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  link


ls  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 ", 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 " 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 ", it refuses, because it

is a directory.

If I use "rmdir ", 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


be aware that:

rm link/


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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