safe-rm(1) wrapper around the rm command to prevent accidental deletions


safe-rm [ ... ] (same arguments as rm)


safe-rm prevents the accidental deletion of important files by replacing rm with a wrapper which checks the given arguments against a configurable blacklist of files and directories which should never be removed.

Users who attempt to delete one of these protected files or directories will not be able to do so and will be shown a warning message instead.

safe-rm is meant to replace the rm command so you can achieve this by putting a symbolic link with the name ``rm'' in a directory which sits at the front of your path. For example, given this path:


You could create the following symbolic link:

  ln -s /usr/local/bin/safe-rm /usr/local/bin/rm


Protected paths can be set both at the site and user levels.

Both of these configuration files can contain a list of important files or directories (one per line):


If both of these are empty, a default list of important paths will be used.


will protect all of the files inside the /usr/lib directory if they are referred to directly, but it will not protect your system against:

  rm -rf /usr/lib

For a full protection, you should include both of these lines:



Same exit status as the real rm command.

Note that if all file arguments are skipped by safe-rm then the exit status will be the same as the exit status of the real rm when no files arguments are present.


Note that if you put the following in your protected paths list:

  $ cat /etc/safe-rm.conf

Then safe-rm will prevent you from deleting the directory:

  $ rm -rf /usr/lib
  Skipping /usr/lib
  /bin/rm: missing operand
  Try `/bin/rm --help' for more information.

However it cannot protect you from the following:

  $ cd /usr/lib
  $ rm -f *


Francois Marier <[email protected]>


Copyright (C) 2008-2014 Francois Marier

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <>.