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I am looking for a BASH example of locate and rm -rf

I am thinking I assign the locate results to an array, then loop that array and rm -rf

Is this what you would do?

Thank you!


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Can you provide an example of what you're trying to do with this? Combining the unfiltered output of a program with rm -rf is very dangerous. I'd put together a find based answer that narrows the risk factor a bit, but I'd need more detail. – Andrew B Mar 5 '13 at 18:02
up vote 0 down vote accepted

if you really wanted to use locate and rm you could use something like the following:

for i in `locate item`; do rm -r -f $i; done

Be very careful with this though, because of the matching that is done with locate. If you are too general in what you type, you can delete a lot more than you originally wanted to.

You can at least get a list of the results by changing the command to:

for i in `locate item`; do echo $i; done
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maybe replace rm -f with rm -i – rfelsburg Mar 5 '13 at 18:02
The $i in the rm command should be "$i" to make sure that it doesn't try to rm each word individually if you have a filename with a space in it. – DerfK Mar 5 '13 at 19:24

Generally this is done with find and rm, something like:

find . -name "foo" -exec rm -rf {} \;

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Preferably with a path prefix on {}. This narrows the scope of the rm -Rf if it goes out of control due to user error. – Andrew B Mar 5 '13 at 18:04
Since rm can delete multiple files at once you can change \; to + as -exec rm -rf {} + and rather than running rm on one file at a time, it will run rm once with all of the files. – DerfK Mar 5 '13 at 19:26
@DerfK Risks an overflow of input args. That said, my suggestion is incompatible with -execdir, which is the preferred way of doing things. Combining rm with any sort of automation is just nasty business. – Andrew B Mar 6 '13 at 0:05

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