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Tags: command-line   sudo   find   rm  
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URL: https://askubuntu.com/q/1255496
Title: Accidentally copied files to wrong directory
ID: /2020/07/01/Accidentally-copied-files-to-wrong-directory
Created: July 1, 2020    Edited:  July 2, 2020
Upload: November 24, 2022    Layout:  post
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Piece together solutions available in Stack Exchange.

If you do enough research you will find a solution by combining these five answers:

Trial Run

First run the command without rm (remove) option to ensure correct files are being found:

$ find /usr/local/bin/ /bin/ -printf '%P\n' | sort | uniq -d | tail -n +2 | awk '{print "/bin/" $0}'

/bin/.auto-brightness-config
/bin/auto-brightness-config
/bin/bell
/bin/bell/bell-select-menu
    ( ... OUTPUT SHORTENED ... )

How it works

find returns the filenames in Directory 1 (/usr/local/bin) followed by Directory 2 (/bin(:

Directory 1 Files in no particular order

Directory 2 Files in no particular order

sort sorts the two directories’ filenames alphabetically

uniq -d reports only the duplicates

This gives us a list of Directory 1 filenames that were accidentally copied into Directory 2. But there is a blank line at the top of the list.

tail -n +2 removed the blank line at the top of the list.

awk '{print "/bin/" $0}' prepends /bin/ to each filename so we have:

Append the rm command to pipeline

Now that we’ve confirmed output is correct append the rm command via xargs. Note if you have filenames with special characters read the fourth link above for exceptional handling.

$ find /usr/local/bin/ /bin/ -printf '%P\n' | sort | uniq -d | tail -n +2 | awk '{print "/bin/" $0}' | xargs rm -f
rm: cannot remove '/bin/.auto-brightness-config': Permission denied
rm: cannot remove '/bin/auto-brightness-config': Permission denied
rm: cannot remove '/bin/bell': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/bell/bell-select-menu': Permission denied

The Permission denied error appears because we must use sudo powers to run the command. Note the error '/bin/bell' is a directory. Later we will have to manually removed the directory with rm -d command.

sudo powers required for /bin directory.

The reason permission denied errors occurred is because root owns the files in /bin we want to delete and our regular user ID isn’t allowed to delete them.

Note depending on how you copied the files into the target directory you may not need need sudo powers to delete them. For example if you are defined as the owner of the files in the target directory.

Now lets run command with sudo powers:

$ find /usr/local/bin/ /bin/ -printf '%P\n' | sort | uniq -d | tail -n +2 | awk '{print "/bin/" $0}' | sudo xargs rm -f
rm: cannot remove '/bin/bell': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/bell/sounds': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/startup-scripts': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/zap': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/zap/Assembly-Intro-hello': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/zap/Assembly-Intro-hello/BeOS': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/zap/Assembly-Intro-hello/FreeBSD': Is a directory
rm: cannot remove '/bin/zap/Assembly-Intro-hello/Linux': Is a directory

75 files have been deleted but 8 empty sub-directories are left to remove. We use the -r recursive option with rm command to delete them:

$ find /usr/local/bin/ /bin/ -printf '%P\n' | sort | uniq -d | tail -n +2 | awk '{print "/bin/" $0}' | sudo xargs rm -rf

Nothing is reported so no more errors!

Summary

The objective of this answer is to not only solve the problem at hand but show the reader how a problem can be solved by checking multiple existing answers in Stack Exchange.

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