UNIX command rm -rf in C

Posted on 2007-03-18
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
How can you implement the standard UNIX command "rm -rf" in C, in order to remove an entire directory tree and all files inside the tree?

I realize I could just do:

system("rm -rf somedir");

But usually there are corresponding C lib functions for every UNIX command.  For example, there is an mkdir() function in C.  But the rmdir() function in C only takes a single argument, (the path), and fails if the specified directory is not empty.  So is there a way to get the functionality of rm -rf using the C library?
Question by:chsalvia
  • 2
LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 18744996
Well, basically, you just remove all files within the directory, and then remove the directory. All of that recursively. So, pseudo code :

    function remove_dir(directory)
        for each file in remove_dir
        end for
        for each dir in remove_dir
            remove_dir(dir)                          <----- recursive call
        end for
    end function
LVL 53

Accepted Solution

Infinity08 earned 125 total points
ID: 18744997
Should have been this of course :

    function remove_dir(directory)
        for each file in directory
        end for
        for each dir in directory
            remove_dir(dir)                          <----- recursive call
        end for
    end function
LVL 24

Assisted Solution

slyong earned 125 total points
ID: 18745099
You can have a read at the actual code for rm implementation here

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