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Codacy Badge PyPiversion Wheel python version Average time to resolve an issue PyPI Downloads

A safe alternative for rm with minimum difference

Ports: See #ports


What is this?

rm-protection is a safe alternative for removing files. It works exactly the same as rm (in fact it passes arguments to rm almost untouched). The only difference is that it refuses to proceed if a .*.rm-protection file is found and you failed to answer a question.

Why are you here?

I watched GitLab engineers trying to recover their production database live on YouTube.

Suddenly an idea struck me: What if rm prompted to ask "Which server are you on?" or "Which database are you trying to delete?"?

What if GitLab Ops had this...

The disaster could have been avoided.

Quick Start

  1. Install from PyPi and make an alias for rm-p .

    pip install rm-protection and optionally, alias rm="rm-p" for your daily user and root (so that it works for sudo).

  2. Protect your files using protect. If you want to protect everything inside, protect -R.

  3. Happy rm-ing!

How does it work?

It consists of two utilities: rm-p and protect. The latter one is to help you protect files.

For example, you have a file called important_file and it is protected by .important_file.rm-protection. rm-p will recognize that important_file is protected and prompt to ask you a question stored in .important_file.rm-protection. rm-p will only proceed if you get the answer right.

See it in action:

Basic usage

It will also prevent you from deleting a directory with protected file(s) inside.

Recursive protection


  • Python 2 or 3
  • Linux, unix and macOS
  • find

Comparison with alternative methods

Methods Can be used as "rm"? Protect Specific Files Flexibility Additional Files
trash-cli Yes Somehow High Centralised Config
rm -i Yes No or Somehow High
safe-rm Yes Yes Low Centralized Config
rm-protection Yes Yes High One for each

Why don't you just use XXX?

rm-protection aims at providing maximum protection and flexibility while making minimum impact on daily operation.

rm -i can be very annoying, trash-cli is a bit complex (imagine you have a habit of emptying the trash without a second thought, or imagine you are trying to free up spaces on a budget vm). Safe-rm is inconvenient when you really need to delete something (you have to edit the configuration file).

Instead, rm-protection asks you a question set by you. You are fully covered when removing files (you won't accidentally empty the trash with trash-cli or | yes with rm -i), and you can quickly remove files (without editing any configuration files).

How to contribute?

Pull requests and issues are all welcome! Or tell others about this, so you can even protect the files you send to others!

Actually I don't care if people are using my implementation at all. I just think this kind of mechanism can be great -- using a .rm-protection file that asks questions.

If the community welcomes this mechanism, it will soon be ported/rewritten in every platform or languages, or even be implemented in the GNU coreutils. Then you can even get some default protections shipped with distributions and packages.

So if you agree on this mechanism, please share with others!



  • rm-protection-c rm-protection implemented in C by losfair

    Current only offers binaries for Linux, source code available for building in macOS and unix.

    (Note that it may behave slightly differently from rm-protection and it has not been tested by me.)