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Cover image for How to Remove Empty and Non Empty Directories in Linux
Johnny Simpson
Johnny Simpson

Posted on • Originally published at fjolt.com

How to Remove Empty and Non Empty Directories in Linux

Removing a directory in Linux is harder than you think, and it's not uncommon to get errors that looks like this:

folder: Directory not empty
folder: is a directory
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The confusion comes because rmdir cannot be used to delete a directory with files or folders inside of it.

Remove a non-empty directory on Linux

To remove a directory on linux, which is not empty, pass the -r flag to rm. -r means recursive, so it deletes everything in a folder, including the folder itself. Replace 'folder' below with your folder's name or location.

rm -r folder
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Remove multiple non-empty directories on Linux

If you want to remove multiple directories on linux, and they are not empty, simply separate the folder names with a space, and use rm -r:

rm -r folder1 folder2 folder3
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Remove an empty directory on Linux

If you want to remove a directory on linux, and your directory is empty, with no folders or files in it, then use rmdir:

rmdir folder
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