Friday, October 15, 2010

Linux / UNIX Delete or Remove Files With Inode Number

An inode identifies the file and its attributes such as file size, owner, and so on. A unique inode number within the file system identifies each inode. But, why to delete file by an inode number? Sure, you can use rm command to delete file. Sometime accidentally you creates filename with control characters or characters which are unable to be input on a keyboard or special character such as ?, * ^ etc. Removing such special character filenames can be problem. Use following method to delete a file with strange characters in its name:
Please note that the procedure outlined below works with Solaris, FreeBSD, Linux, or any other Unixish oses out there:

Find out file inode

First find out file inode number with any one of the following command:
stat {file-name}
ls -il {file-name}

Use find command to remove file:

Use find command as follows to find and remove a file:
find . -inum [inode-number] -exec rm -i {} \;
When prompted for confirmation, press Y to confirm removal of the file.

Delete or remove files with inode number

Let us try to delete file using inode number.
(a) Create a hard to delete file name:
$ cd /tmp
$ touch "\+Xy \+\8"
$ ls

(b) Try to remove this file with rm command:
$ rm \+Xy \+\8
(c) Remove file by an inode number, but first find out the file inode number:
$ ls -ilOutput:
981956 drwx------  3 rajat admin 4096 2010-10-15 15:05 gconfd-viv
981964 drwx------  2 rajat admin 4096 2010-10-15 15:05 keyring-pKracm
982049 srwxr-xr-x  1 rajat admin    0 2010-10-15 15:05 mapping-viv
981939 drwx------  2 rajat admin 4096 2010-10-15 15:31 orbit-viv
981922 drwx------  2 rajat admin 4096 2010-10-15 15:05 ssh-cnaOtj4013
981882 drwx------  2 rajat admin 4096 2010-10-15 15:05 ssh-SsCkUW4013
982263 -rw-r--r--  1 rajat admin    0 2010-10-15 15:49 \+Xy \+\8
Note: 982263 is inode number.
(d) Use find command to delete file by inode:
Find and remove file using find command, type the command as follows:
$ find . -inum 982263 -exec rm -i {} \;
Note you can also use add \ character before special character in filename to remove it directly so the command would be:
$ rm "\+Xy \+\8"
If you have file like name like name "2009/12/31" then no UNIX or Linux command can delete this file by name. Only method to delete such file is delete file by an inode number. Linux or UNIX never allows creating filename like 2009/12/31 but if you are using NFS from MAC OS or Windows then it is possible to create a such file.

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