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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Deleteing a file with a name that starts with a hyphen

Here's a simple fix to a tricky problem (simple with hindsight, of course)...

By accident I created a file called '--latest' and wanted to delete it. But unix thinks that '--' signifies a program option. Escaping the hyphens didn't work either.
$ rm '--latest'
rm: illegal option -- -
usage: rm [-f | -i] [-dPRrvW] file ...
unlink file
$ rm '\-\-latest'
rm: \-\-latest: No such file or directory
$ rm "\-\-latest"
rm: \-\-latest: No such file or directory

The simple solution is to give a more complete path specification that avoids having the hyphens as the first characters.
$ rm ./--latest
Problem solved!


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