rmdir(3p) — Linux manual page


RMDIR(3P)               POSIX Programmer's Manual              RMDIR(3P)

PROLOG         top

       This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual.  The
       Linux implementation of this interface may differ (consult the
       corresponding Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior),
       or the interface may not be implemented on Linux.

NAME         top

       rmdir — remove a directory

SYNOPSIS         top

       #include <unistd.h>

       int rmdir(const char *path);

DESCRIPTION         top

       The rmdir() function shall remove a directory whose name is given
       by path.  The directory shall be removed only if it is an empty

       If the directory is the root directory or the current working
       directory of any process, it is unspecified whether the function
       succeeds, or whether it shall fail and set errno to [EBUSY].

       If path names a symbolic link, then rmdir() shall fail and set
       errno to [ENOTDIR].

       If the path argument refers to a path whose final component is
       either dot or dot-dot, rmdir() shall fail.

       If the directory's link count becomes 0 and no process has the
       directory open, the space occupied by the directory shall be
       freed and the directory shall no longer be accessible. If one or
       more processes have the directory open when the last link is
       removed, the dot and dot-dot entries, if present, shall be
       removed before rmdir() returns and no new entries may be created
       in the directory, but the directory shall not be removed until
       all references to the directory are closed.

       If the directory is not an empty directory, rmdir() shall fail
       and set errno to [EEXIST] or [ENOTEMPTY].

       Upon successful completion, rmdir() shall mark for update the
       last data modification and last file status change timestamps of
       the parent directory.

RETURN VALUE         top

       Upon successful completion, the function rmdir() shall return 0.
       Otherwise, -1 shall be returned, and errno set to indicate the
       error. If -1 is returned, the named directory shall not be

ERRORS         top

       The rmdir() function shall fail if:

       EACCES Search permission is denied on a component of the path
              prefix, or write permission is denied on the parent
              directory of the directory to be removed.

       EBUSY  The directory to be removed is currently in use by the
              system or some process and the implementation considers
              this to be an error.

       [EEXIST] or [ENOTEMPTY]
                   The path argument names a directory that is not an
                   empty directory, or there are hard links to the
                   directory other than dot or a single entry in dot-

       EINVAL      The path argument contains a last component that is

       EIO         A physical I/O error has occurred.

       ELOOP       A loop exists in symbolic links encountered during
                   resolution of the path argument.

                   The length of a component of a pathname is longer
                   than {NAME_MAX}.

       ENOENT      A component of path does not name an existing file,
                   or the path argument names a nonexistent directory or
                   points to an empty string.

       ENOTDIR     A component of path names an existing file that is
                   neither a directory nor a symbolic link to a

       [EPERM] or [EACCES]
                   The S_ISVTX flag is set on the directory containing
                   the file referred to by the path argument and the
                   process does not satisfy the criteria specified in
                   the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2017, Section
                   4.3, Directory Protection.

       EROFS       The directory entry to be removed resides on a read-
                   only file system.

       The rmdir() function may fail if:

       ELOOP  More than {SYMLOOP_MAX} symbolic links were encountered
              during resolution of the path argument.

              The length of a pathname exceeds {PATH_MAX}, or pathname
              resolution of a symbolic link produced an intermediate
              result with a length that exceeds {PATH_MAX}.

       The following sections are informative.

EXAMPLES         top

   Removing a Directory
       The following example shows how to remove a directory named

           #include <unistd.h>

           int status;
           status = rmdir("/home/cnd/mod1");



RATIONALE         top

       The rmdir() and rename() functions originated in 4.2 BSD, and
       they used [ENOTEMPTY] for the condition when the directory to be
       removed does not exist or new already exists. When the 1984
       /usr/group standard was published, it contained [EEXIST] instead.
       When these functions were adopted into System V, the 1984
       /usr/group standard was used as a reference. Therefore, several
       existing applications and implementations support/use both forms,
       and no agreement could be reached on either value. All
       implementations are required to supply both [EEXIST] and
       [ENOTEMPTY] in <errno.h> with distinct values, so that
       applications can use both values in C-language case statements.

       The meaning of deleting pathname/dot is unclear, because the name
       of the file (directory) in the parent directory to be removed is
       not clear, particularly in the presence of multiple links to a

       The POSIX.1‐1990 standard was silent with regard to the behavior
       of rmdir() when there are multiple hard links to the directory
       being removed. The requirement to set errno to [EEXIST] or
       [ENOTEMPTY] clarifies the behavior in this case.

       If the current working directory of the process is being removed,
       that should be an allowed error.

       Virtually all existing implementations detect [ENOTEMPTY] or the
       case of dot-dot. The text in Section 2.3, Error Numbers about
       returning any one of the possible errors permits that behavior to
       continue. The [ELOOP] error may be returned if more than
       {SYMLOOP_MAX} symbolic links are encountered during resolution of
       the path argument.



SEE ALSO         top

       Section 2.3, Error Numbers, mkdir(3p), remove(3p), rename(3p),

       The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2017, Section 4.3,
       Directory Protection, unistd.h(0p)

COPYRIGHT         top

       Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic
       form from IEEE Std 1003.1-2017, Standard for Information
       Technology -- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The
       Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, 2018 Edition, Copyright
       (C) 2018 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
       Engineers, Inc and The Open Group.  In the event of any
       discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and The
       Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group
       Standard is the referee document. The original Standard can be
       obtained online at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .

       Any typographical or formatting errors that appear in this page
       are most likely to have been introduced during the conversion of
       the source files to man page format. To report such errors, see
       https://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/reporting_bugs.html .

IEEE/The Open Group               2017                         RMDIR(3P)

Pages that refer to this page: unistd.h(0p)rm(1p)rmdir(1p)remove(3p)rename(3p)unlink(3p)