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Re: rmdir -p foo/bar/nonexistent

From: Eric Blake
Subject: Re: rmdir -p foo/bar/nonexistent
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2006 06:57:23 -0600
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Hash: SHA1

According to Koblinger Egmont on 4/10/2006 6:28 AM:
> Hi,
> Using coreutils 5.94, the command
>   rmdir -p foo/bar/nonexistent
> does not remove the `foo' or `foo/bar' empty directories if the mentioned
> subdirectory (foo/bar/nonexistent) does not exist.

The POSIX wording is a bit ambiguous here
(http://www.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/009695399/utilities/rmdir.html).  It
states simply that when -p is in effect,

"Remove all directories in a pathname. For each dir operand:

   1. The directory entry it names shall be removed.
   2. If the dir operand includes more than one pathname component,
effects equivalent to the following command shall occur:

      rmdir -p $(dirname dir)"

One reading is that since step 1 fails, the entire rmdir command fails at
that point without attempting step 2.

But I think your request is valid - foo/bar/nonexistent is certainly
removed (since it never existed), then it looks like we can read POSIX as
requiring that the command should continue on to remove foo/bar and foo.
The only question now is what do other implementations (such as BSD or
Solaris) do in this case?

- --
Life is short - so eat dessert first!

Eric Blake             address@hidden
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