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bug#60989: [PATCH] rm: fail on duplicate input if force not enabled

From: Pádraig Brady
Subject: bug#60989: [PATCH] rm: fail on duplicate input if force not enabled
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2023 14:53:13 +0000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:109.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/109.0

On 21/01/2023 13:05, Łukasz Sroka wrote:
     When the input files contain duplicates, then the rm fails. Because
     duplicates occur most often when the * is used and the shell unwraps it.
     There is a very common scenario when a user accidentally enters space
     after a filename, or enters space instead of forward slash.

       rm prefix_ *

     The user intended to remove all files with a `prefix_` but removed all
     of the files in cwd.
     The program quits immediately when a duplicate is detected, to prevent
     pressing `y` because user expected a prompt regarding removing multiple
     The force option disables this function to enable scripts to work
     without modifying them.

diff --git a/src/rm.c b/src/rm.c
index 354e2b0df..e4f9949f0 100644
--- a/src/rm.c
+++ b/src/rm.c
@@ -123,6 +123,16 @@ diagnose_leading_hyphen (int argc, char **argv)

+static bool
+find_duplicates (int n_files, char **files)
+  for (int l = 0; l < n_files-1; l++)
+    for (int r = l+1; r < n_files; r++)
+      if (strcmp(files[l], files[r]) == 0)
+          return true;
+  return false;
  usage (int status)
@@ -211,6 +221,7 @@ main (int argc, char **argv)
    bool preserve_root = true;
    struct rm_options x;
    bool prompt_once = false;
+  bool force_rm = false;
    int c;

    initialize_main (&argc, &argv);
@@ -238,6 +249,7 @@ main (int argc, char **argv)
            x.interactive = RMI_NEVER;
            x.ignore_missing_files = true;
            prompt_once = false;
+          force_rm = true;

          case 'i':
@@ -352,6 +364,17 @@ main (int argc, char **argv)
    uintmax_t n_files = argc - optind;
    char **file =  argv + optind;

+  if (!force_rm && find_duplicates(n_files, file))
+    {
+      /* Because usually when the input files are duplicated it means
that the user
+         sumbitted both a directory and an * as separate arguments,
probably by accident */
+      fprintf (stderr,
+               "%s: input contains duplicates, most likely you've put "
+               "both * and a file from the same directory.\n",
+               program_name);
+      return EXIT_FAILURE;
+    }
    if (prompt_once && (x.recursive || 3 < n_files))
        fprintf (stderr,

An interesting proposal.
The main protection would be for `dir/ *` rather than `file_prefix_ *`.
The former would be unusual for a user to type, while the latter more usual, 
but wouldn't trigger the protection AFAICS.
This ads O(N^2) on each interaction, so if it was to be included probably only 
enabled with --interactive.


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