Answering questions that may arise related to the meaning of portions of an IEEE standard concerning specific applications.

IEEE Standards Interpretation for IEEE Std 1003.1™-2001 IEEE Standard Standard for Information Technology -- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX®)

Copyright © 2006 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. 3 Park Avenue New York, New York 10016-5997 USA All Rights Reserved.

Interpretations are issued to explain and clarify the intent of a standard and do not constitute an alteration to the original standard. In addition, interpretations are not intended to supply consulting information. Permission is hereby granted to download and print one copy of this document. Individuals seeking permission to reproduce and/or distribute this document in its entirety or portions of this document must contact the IEEE Standards Department for the appropriate license. Use of the information contained in this document is at your own risk.

IEEE Standards Department Copyrights and Permissions 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855-1331, USA

Interpretation Request #91
Topic: rm dot Relevant Sections: XCU rm

POSIX currently requires that "rm ." must output a diagnostic and then exit with status zero, contrary to common practice. The EXIT STATUS section of the specification for "rm" says that the exit status must be zero if all rmdir() or unlink() calls succeeded, but the algorithm specified on page 824 makes it clear that "rm ." never invokes rmdir() or unlink(), so "rm ." must therefore exit with status zero.

There is a similar problem with "rm /", "rm nonexistentfile", etc.

Change the following text in lines 32097-32098 from:

0 All of the named directory entries for which rm performed actions equivalent to the rmdir() or unlink() functions were removed.


0 Each directory entry was successfully removed, unless its removal was canceled by a non-affirmative response to a prompt for confirmation.

Interpretation Response
The standards states the requirements for rm, and conforming implementations must conform to this. However, concerns have been raised about this which are being referred to the sponsor.

Rationale for Interpretation