Protection from the dreaded "rm -fr /"

Ryan Sommers ryans at
Sat Oct 2 01:52:26 PDT 2004

Edwin Groothuis wrote:

>On Sat, Oct 02, 2004 at 11:19:28AM +0300, Giorgos Keramidas wrote:
>>John Beck, who works for Sun, has posted an entry in his blog yesterday
>>about "rm -fr /" protection, which I liked a lot:
>>His idea was remarkably simple, so I went ahead and wrote this patch for
>>rm(1) of FreeBSD:
>I'm not so much worried about 'rm -rf /', but I'm more worried about
>"rm -rf *" in my home directory. It happened once because I was too
>happy switching directories before realising what I was doing in
>the wrong directory.
>Also, refusing to do it is not the ideal way to go, I think that
>if you have two -f's specified it would do it anyway. Just my two
>cents of course.
If you use tcsh for your shell add:

set rmstar

to your .cshrc file. Then anytime you use '*' as an argument to rm it 
will ask you if you are sure you want to do that.

As for adding this kind of oops-proofing. I'm not sure I like the idea 
of completely removing the ability to use / as an argument. How about 
prompting and needing 'yes' as input?

Ryan Sommers
ryans at

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