Section: POSIX Programmer's Manual (3P)
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.
--- remove a directory
int rmdir(const char *path);
function shall remove a directory whose name is given by
The directory shall be removed only if it is an empty directory.
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
names a symbolic link, then
shall fail and set
argument refers to a path whose final component is either dot or
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
returns and no new entries may be created in the directory, but the
directory shall not be removed until all references to the directory
If the directory is not an empty directory,
shall fail and set
Upon successful completion,
shall mark for update the last data modification and last file status
change timestamps of the parent directory.
Upon successful completion, the function
shall return 0. Otherwise, -1 shall be returned, and
set to indicate the error. If -1 is returned, the named
directory shall not be changed.
function shall fail if:
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
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]
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
argument contains a last component that is dot.
A physical I/O error has occurred.
A loop exists in symbolic links encountered during resolution of the
The length of a component of a pathname is longer than
A component of
does not name an existing file, or the
argument names a nonexistent directory or points to an empty string.
A component of
names an existing file that is neither a directory nor a symbolic link
to a directory.
- [EPERM] or [EACCES]
The S_ISVTX flag is set on the directory containing the file referred
to by the
argument and the process does not satisfy the criteria specified in the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1-2008,
Section 4.2, Directory Protection.
The directory entry to be removed resides on a read-only file system.
function may fail if:
symbolic links were encountered during resolution of the
The length of a pathname exceeds
or pathname resolution of a symbolic link produced an intermediate
result with a length that exceeds
The following sections are informative.
Removing a Directory
The following example shows how to remove a directory named
status = rmdir("/home/cnd/mod1");
functions originated in 4.2 BSD, and they used
for the condition when the directory to be removed does not exist or
already exists. When the 1984 /usr/group standard was published, it contained
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
with distinct values, so that applications can use both values in
The meaning of deleting
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 directory.
The POSIX.1-1990 standard was silent with regard to the behavior of
when there are multiple hard links to the directory being removed. The
requirement to set
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
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
error may be returned if more than
symbolic links are encountered during resolution of the
, Error Numbers,
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1-2008,
Section 4.2, Directory Protection,
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technology
-- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base
Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group.
(This is POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) 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
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