unlink (Unix)

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This article is about the Unix system call. For the mathematical concept, see unlink.

In Unix-like operating systems, unlink is a system call and a command line utility to delete files. The program directly interfaces the system call, which removes the file name and (but not on GNU systems) directories like rm and rmdir.[1] If the file name was the last hard link to the file, the file itself is deleted as soon as no program has it open.[2]

It also appears in the PHP, Node.js and Perl programming languages in the form of the unlink() built-in function. Like the Unix utility, it is also used to delete files.[3][4]


To delete a file named foo, one could type:

   % unlink foo

In PHP, one could use the following function to do the same:


The Perl syntax is identical to the PHP syntax, save for the parentheses:

   unlink "foo";

In Node.js it is almost the same as the others:

   fs.unlink("foo", callback);


See also[edit]