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Recently I have seen one issue with a cache problem. The problem comes with broken hash and that could be fixed with

sudo rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*


sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/* -vf

But I am not understanding the difference between these two. Can somebody explain the difference?

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As noted in the answers, these are 3 separate arguments, r, v, and f. But not noted in the answers is that they can also be combined in different ways: -rv (what I usually use) and -rvf when you need all three. – Izkata Sep 18 '12 at 19:46
up vote 8 down vote accepted

from the man Page:

-r, -R, --recursive

remove directories and their contents recursively i.e. Folders inside them will be removed also.

-v, --verbose

explain what is being done or show what is happening.

For the -f

-f, --force ignore nonexistent files, never prompt

You will not be promoted whether to remove the file or not. In other words: You will not be asked this question "Do you want to remove the files? Yes or No"

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  • The -r argument stands for "recursive." It will remove what you ask, as well as all files and directories underneath it.
  • The -f argument stands for "force." It will ignore nonexistent files and never prompt.


  • The -f again stands for "force."
  • The -v argument stands for "verbose." It will print all items it deletes.

The biggest difference is this: -rf will remove all files and directories under the location you asked for, and print nothing. -vf will NOT remove non-empty directories and print everything it does delete.

Note that this information comes from the man page:

$ man rm
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