Unable to delete file, even when running as root

  • I am in the process of migrating a machine from RHEL 4 to 5. Rather than actually do an upgrade we have created a new VM (both machines are in a cloud) and I am in the process of copying across data between the two.

    I have come across the following file, which I need to remove from the new machine but am unable to, even when running as root:

    -rw-------  1 2003 2003  219 jan 11 14:22 .bash_history

    This file is inside /home/USER/, where USER is the account of the guy who built the machine. He doesn't have an account on the old machine, so I am trying to remove his home folder so that the new machine tallies with the old one, but I get the following error:

    rm: ne peut enlever `.bash_history': Opération non permise

    (translated from the French: cannot remove XXX, operation not permitted)

    I have tried using the following command but this has made no difference:

    chattr -i .bash_history

    Is the only choice to create a user with the ID 2003, or is there another way around it?


    I have tried using rm -f, and I get the same error. I get the same kind of error using chmod 777 first.

    I have been able to chown the folder that contains the file I am trying to delete, so it is:

    drwx------ 2 root root 1024 jan 24 15:58 USER


    Running the lsattr command as suggested by Angus gave the following output:

    -----a------- USER/.bash_history
    ------------- USER/..
    ------------- USER/.

    The file is flagged as append-only - on changing this flag using chattr -a .bash_history I was able to delete the file.

  • angus

    angus Correct answer

    9 years ago

    Check the permissions of the directory. To delete a file inside it, it should be writable by you

    chmod ugo+w .

    and not immutable or append-only:

    chattr -i -a .

    Check with ls -la and lsattr -a.

    thanks.. I had to run this on named* files that didnt not clean up after yum erase bind in Centos 7 minimal

    Unfortunately, for `/vendor/laracasts/generators/.git/objects/pack/`, when I run `chattr -i -a .`, I get `chattr: Inappropriate ioctl for device while reading flags on .`, and I can't `rm` the pesky `.idx` file that Composer left behind (because "Operation not permitted").

    Ahhh, one workaround for me was to exit out of my Laravel Homestead Vagrant VirtualBox back into Windows 10 (still using Git Bash) and `rm` the files from there. Then `composer update` was able to complete.

    `chattr -i -a` worked.

    Even after using Linux for nearly 10 years, I keep on learning new stuff. Never heard about the immutable attribute before!

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