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I have a list of directories in a text file and each of them need to be deleted. How can I read in that list into the command (rm -r or rmdir)?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The "more correct" solution would be the following:

xargs -I{} rm -r {} < files

This calls rm -r, where {} is replaced with the file name.

Why? Piping files with spaces to xargs will result in wrong arguments. Let's say your list of files looks like this:

/path/to/file 1

Then xargs rm -r < list.txt would try to delete /path/to/file, 1 and /path/to/file_2. Definitely not what you want. Always be aware of spaces in paths when piping from and to UNIX / Linux commands.

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assuming you have paths with spaces in file list.txt - one path per line. Then the following way of invoking xargs will preserve spaces:

cat list.txt | xargs -d \\n rm -r
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