file system saftey: unlink vs rmtree vs system calls for directory removal

Posted on 2007-04-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
I keep hearing that I shouldn't use the unlink() command to remove directories because it could damage the file system and should use rmdir() instead.  

But rmdir only removes empty directories so a system call is sometimes easiest to remove directories with files still in them. (and I like to avoid system calls)

What I don't know is how safe is:
  use File::Path;

The use File::Path module seems to make use of both unlink and rmdir, but looks looks safe, but just want to ping you guys here first to see your experience .
Question by:Marketing_Insists
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Adam314 earned 400 total points
ID: 18839519
the rmtree will use unlink for files and rmdir for directories.
If you specify the second parameter as 1 to rmtree, it will print how it is removing each file/dir (eg: whether it is using unlink or rmdir)
LVL 85

Assisted Solution

ozo earned 400 total points
ID: 18839523
unlink on a directory will fail unless the euid is the superuser, but it is the super user, and it doed not know what it is doing, it can damage the file system
File::Path::rmtree could have a problem if the direcrories are being altered while rmtree is running, or if rmtree is interupted while running

Author Comment

ID: 18892620
Thanks, both helpful

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