Delete / Remove a Directory Linux Command - nixCraft

Commands to remove a directory in Linux

There are two command to delete a folder in Linux:

  1. rmdir command – Deletes the specified empty directories and folders in Linux.
  2. rm command – Delete the file including sub-directories. You can delete non-empty directories with rmdir command in Linux.

Let us see some examples and usage in details delete the directories.

rmdir command syntax to delete directory in Linux

The rmdir command remove the DIRECTORY(ies), if they are empty. The syntax is:
rmdir directory-namermdir [option] directory-name
Open the terminal application and run command to delete given directory. For example, delete a folder named dir1:
rmdir dir1

Delete directory Linux Command

Open a command line terminal (select Applications > Accessories > Terminal), and then type the following command to remove a directory called /tmp/docs:
rmdir /tmp/docs
If a directory is not empty you will get an error message that read as follows:
rmdir letters
Sample outputs:

rmdir: letters: Directory not empty

You can cd to the directory to find out and list all files:
$ cd letters$ ls
Delete those files or directories. In this next example, remove data, foo and bar if bar were empty, foo only contained bar and data only contained foo directories:
cd /home/nixcraftrmdir -p data/foo/bar

  • -p : Each directory argument is treated as a pathname of which all components will be removed, if they are empty, starting with the last most component.

How to see a diagnostic message for every directory processed

Pass the -v option to the rmdir command:
$ rmdir -v dir1
Sample outputs:

rmdir: removing directory, ‘dir1’


We can use wildcards such as ‘*’ and ‘?’ to match and delete multiple directories. For example:
$ ls -l dir*
We have three dirs named dir1, dir2, and dir3. To delete all directories starting with ‘dir’ in the current, you would use the following command:
rmdir -v dir*

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