I accidentially copied my whole home directory into one of my subdirectories, causing me to exceed my disk quota on a server.

Or does anyone know how to undo a command in general?

  • 1
    In addition to "Here's a nickle, kid. Get yourself a better computer." old unix programers and admins like to say "You recover from your backup. You do have a backup don't you?". Though in this case it is only the original contents of the sub-directory that are likely to be lost. – dmckee Jan 5 '12 at 21:57

Bash is just a command-line interpreter - it does what you tell it to do and doesn't have an undo helper program. You're best of just deleting the subdirectory with something like:

chmod -R 775 ~/yoursubdir && rm -rf ~/yoursubdir
  • Can you explain what the first part of that command does? Thanks :) – Chuck Testa Jan 5 '12 at 19:36
  • That first part is setting the rwx (read, write, execute) permissions to your user and group - for all the files and folders just to be sure you will not encounter permission problems upon deleting. – user111228 Jan 5 '12 at 19:56

I'm pretty sure there's no such thing. If there was, that would be pretty interesting.

For your case you can just remove the subdirectory

rm -rf /path/to/subdirectory

But be careful with that command, as it can fully delete any files from the sub-directory without any confirmation. ;)


When it comes to the shell, you are the undo. The opposite of copying is deleting (rm), so delete the copies.

I recommend installing the trash-cli package, and then setting these Bash aliases:

alias rm='trash'
alias rrm='rm -i'

Of course, in your case, since you're out of disk space, you probably don't want to trash the files first. Even so, it's a good practice to use the trash.

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