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Re: OT: the rm bug hit me again

Jeff Vian wrote:
On Fri, 2006-10-27 at 14:41 +0100, Nigel Wade wrote:
Mike McCarty wrote:
Arthur Pemberton wrote:
On 10/25/06, Robin Laing <Robin Laing drdc-rddc gc ca> wrote:

Graphical file manager?  That isn't the *nix way of doing things.  :)

And the -f in the rm command it to stop the "Confirm delete?" questions.
   My rm is set to confirm all deletes using alias.


How exactly did you do this? I got bit by this bug once in my Linux
life, would prefer it never happens again.

alias rm='rm -i'

That's not a good idea as it teaches you to expect to be prompted, and you'll be bitten badly some time when the alias isn't present.

Strange that you feel this is wrong.

I just think it's dangerous to become reliant on that non-standard behaviour of a potentially very dangerous command. If you expect the prompt when you wildcard rm, then you'll suffer when it isn't there. At first it might start out as a useful safeguard, but over time you will become subconsciously trained to expect it. You get used to typing 'rm *' and answering 'y' to those files you want to be deleted, until you do that on a system where the alias isn't present, or you are logged on as a user who doesn't have the alias.

Fedora has from the beginning done exactly that for the root user, and
the reason is to help prevent those type human errors when you are root
and have the power of god to destroy your system.

I don't only use Linux/Fedora... Getting used to a "feature" of one system, and then expecting it on another, is a route to disaster with a command like rm.

For me, I never run as root unless absolutely necessary, and I always
preview my commands before I hit enter.

It's not a root issue, it's a global issue. Any user can delete files by mistake if they expect to be prompted when they wildcard rm.

I personally like the prompt because it reminds me that I am running as

That's the worst of all positions to have the alias. A user who expects rm to prompt will only delete their own files if it doesn't, a root user who expects rm to prompt can delete the entire system if it doesn't. I would never, ever, want to rely on non-standard behaviour of such a dangerous command. What will you do if your root .bash_profile, or whatever script sets the alias for root, gets deleted, modified or in some other way not executed? Or if you administer a system which isn't running Fedora?

It's better to train yourself to review any rm command with a wildcard in it, than it is to get used to being prompted by rm.

Nigel Wade, System Administrator, Space Plasma Physics Group,
            University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
E-mail :    nmw ion le ac uk
Phone :     +44 (0)116 2523548, Fax : +44 (0)116 2523555

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