I’ve known for a long time to stay away from the short, sweet and simple “rm -rf /” command. It deletes every file on any writable filesystem mounted by a *nix system, but what exactly happens if you do run it?
Do green leprechauns jump off the screen to warn you that you shouldn’t do it? Not quite.
Here’s a video with the verbose option set to make it a little bit more interesting. I’m running it in a virtual machine so I can capture video of all the “action” – it was a bit slow to complete, but I’ve gone ahead and increased how quickly it runs to not be nearly so boring.
At the very end you can see that X crashes on the VM when I click where the trash icon would be. Rebooting results in a GRUB error 15.
If you’d like to hear a horror story about someone running rm recursively, check it out here: http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/hack/recovery.html