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to remove a file with special characters in its name

-rw-r-----  1 root   system 1582339  Apr 05 20:24 smit.log
-rw-------  1 root   system  14751   Apr 06 07:36 .lsof_lawaptpu001
-rw-r-----  1 root   system      0   Apr 06 08:02 *
-rw-r-----  1 root   system 136792   Apr 10 05:25 dsmerror.log
-rw-r-----  1 root   system 37641208 Apr 10 05:25 dsmsched.log

Looking at the output above, you may find a surprise and if you have not dealt with such surprises before you may already be thinking how to remove the “offending” file. Executing rm * will quickly decrease the number of files in this location and most likely it is not what one intends to do. We have a few options.

One could execute the command rm simultaneously suppressing the meaning of the special character or characters included in the file name.

# rm '*'

Above, the command was instructed not to “expand” the * into any existing file name that does not have an extension, but to treat it as the single meaningless character * and to remove only the one file which name is a single *.

What to do if one finds a file named * ?.? In the last case, it is often difficult to establish the number of spaces in the file name. In this situation, you may use the find command to find the value of the inode associated with the file.

# ls -i
   52 *
   36 *    ? 
   11.java
   40 .lsof_lawaptpu001
   47 .sh_history
   64 .ssh
   31 .toc
16384 .topasrecrc
    6 .vi_history

Next, the find command is instructed to associate the the earlier identified inode with the file name which is given to the rm command for a prompt removal.

# find . -inum 36 -exec rm '{}' \;

If instead of removal you are interested in renaming the file, you could proceed as follow:

# find . -inum 36 -exec mv '{}' new_file_name \;

where the new_file_name is the new name.

Posted in Real life AIX.

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2 Responses

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  1. Huy says

    You probably want this instead:
    # find . -inum 36 -exec mv ‘{}’ new_file_name \;

  2. MarkD:-) says

    Huy, you are right! this is exactly what I meant.

    Thank you for your comment!!!

    MarkD:-)



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