rmdir command in Linux. Removing directories.

delete file in linux


Likewise mkdir command for creating directories, the rmdir command (remove directory) helps Linux system users to remove directory(ies). But rm command can also be used to remove a directory. It is useful when you want to delete an empty directory.

Note: rmdir can only remove blank directories.

In this article i will guide you how you can make use of rmdir command to remove directory.

Synopsis / Syntax

The general syntax for rmdir command is as below.


For Example: For deleting a directory named thecloudiary, the argument will be as below.

$ rmdir thecloudiary 

But remember thecloudiary directory must be empty.


There are very less options in rmdir command. Let us discuss all the options.

-p, –parentsremove DIRECTORY and its ancestors
-v, –verboseShows message being what has been done
–helpdisplay this help and exit

How to Remove (Delete) an empty Directory ?

To remove an empty directory just simply run the command.

$ rmdir Directory_Name

You can delete more than one directory with one command. As you have the facility to create multiple files in mkdir command in one shot.

While trying to delete a non-empty directory you will get the below error and Linux system won’t allow you to delete the directory. You can use rm command to delete the non-empty directory.


rmdir: failed to remove 'Directory_Name': No such file or directory

How to delete multiple empty directories ?

As you have seen in mkdir command we have created directories in forward order. But when invoking rmdir command it should be in reverse order.

The below sequence used in mkdir is invalid in rmdir.

$ rmdir X X/X1 X/X2 


rmdir: failed to remove 'x': Directory not empty

But here after running this command rmdir has silently deleted the sub-directories X1 and X2.

If you run the below command it will delete the parent and its child directories.

$ rmdir -v X/X2 X/X1 X


Here I have used -v option to see what is being done.

If you wanted to delete multiple directories under a parent directory invoke the below command.

$ rmdir dir1 dir2 dir3

Rules to delete directory

While deleting directory you should remember these two rules.

  • You can not delete a directory with rmdir unless it is empty.
  • You can not remove a sub-directory unless you are placed in a directory which is hierarchically above the one yo have wished to remove.


The rmdir command only works for those directories owned by the user. You can remove the directory without using rmdir command. Check it out.

In this article a basic understanding of rmdir is explained, leave a comment if have any queries.

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