remove man page

remove — remove a file or directory


#include <stdio.h>

int remove(const char *pathname);


remove() deletes a name from the filesystem. It calls unlink(2) for files, and rmdir(2) for directories.

If the removed name was the last link to a file and no processes have the file open, the file is deleted and the space it was using is made available for reuse.

If the name was the last link to a file, but any processes still have the file open, the file will remain in existence until the last file descriptor referring to it is closed.

If the name referred to a symbolic link, the link is removed.

If the name referred to a socket, FIFO, or device, the name is removed, but processes which have the object open may continue to use it.

Return Value

On success, zero is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.


The errors that occur are those for unlink(2) and rmdir(2).


For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

remove()Thread safetyMT-Safe

Conforming to

POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, C89, C99, 4.3BSD.


Infelicities in the protocol underlying NFS can cause the unexpected disappearance of files which are still being used.

See Also

rm(1), unlink(1), link(2), mknod(2), open(2), rename(2), rmdir(2), unlink(2), mkfifo(3), symlink(7)


This page is part of release 4.08 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be found at

Referenced By

bind(2), symlink(7), unlink(2).

2015-08-08 GNU Linux Programmer's Manual