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14.15. Removing a Strange File by its i-number

If wildcards don't work (Section 14.12) to remove a file with a strange name, try getting the file's i-number (Section 13.2). Then use find's -inum operator (Section 9.9) to remove the file.

Here's a directory with a weird filename. ls (with its default -q option (Section 8.12) on most versions) shows that the name has three unusual characters. Running ls -i shows each file's i-number. The strange file has i-number 6239. Give the i-number to find, and the file is gone:

% ls
adir      afile     b???file  bfile     cfile     dfile
% ls -i
  6253 adir        6239 b???file    6249 cfile
  9291 afile       6248 bfile       9245 dfile
% find . -inum 6239 -exec rm {} \;
% ls
adir   afile  bfile  cfile  dfile

Instead of deleting the file, I also could have renamed it to newname with the command:

% find . -inum 6239 -exec mv {} newname \;

If the current directory has large subdirectories, you'll probably want to keep find from recursing down into them by using the -maxdepth 1 operator. (finds that don't support -maxdepth can use -prune ( Section 9.25) for speed.)

-- JP

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