Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am using auditctl to log all commands run on my Ubuntu system and I working on a script that parses the log into a more readable format. Since these logs tend to become very large, I want to periodically delete the logs. I found that by running

sudo rm /var/log/audit/*

I would get

rm: cannot remove `/var/log/audit/*': No such file or directory

however by running

sudo su
rm /var/log/audit/*

The logs would be deleted without any problem. What could be the cause of this?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Filename expansion is the cause of the problem.

The shell is expanding /var/log/audit/* as your current, non-root user.

As that user doesn't have read/exec access to /var/log/audit, rm is getting passed, instead of a list of files to delete that are all in that directory, the literal string


rm is correct - there IS no file named "*" in /var/log/audit - so it can't delete it.

Try this:

sudo 'rm /var/log/audit/*'

or maybe:

sudo sh -c 'rm /var/log/audit/*'
share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.