You knew it was going to happen: As soon as Linux’s Bash shell hit Windows 10 in yesterday’s Windows Insider preview build, people immediately experimented with
rm -rf /, a.k.a. the deadly Linux command that nukes everything stored on your computer as well as everything stored on anything attached to your computer.
Breaking down the command reveals why it’s so deadly:
rmtells the system to delete the files.
-rfstands for “recursive force,” which tells the system to force-remove all the files and folders inside the location you specify without prompting you—even write-protected ones marked as read-only.
- Finally, the
/location specified in this deadly thread represents the root directory—the genesis of your system.
So if you enter the command on a Linux system, boom! Everything’s deleted. (Though to be fair, many Linux systems issue a warning before executing
rm -rf / these days.)
Naturally, it’s one of the first things people tried with Windows 10’s Bash implementation—hopefully inside a virtual machine. But it wouldn’t have mattered because running the command doesn’t fry your system, as Petri first reported (though it does fry Bash).
You can coax Windows 10’s Bash shell into running the command, according to Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman, but it involves jumping through some additional hoops. And if you do that, well, Hanselman sums it up:
@CarmenCrincoli @DrPizza @bdsams and then it's just on you to not be silly. RD /s on CMD and rm -f in bash is usually silly.
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) April 6, 2016
If you’re looking for more productive ways to use Bash, be sure to check out the 12 commands every Linux newbie should learn.