dead linuxIn this post I will collect all commands which SHOULD NEVER be executed in Linux. Any of them will cause data loss or corruption, can freeze or hang up running system.


Even if somebody advises you in forum/im to do it.

1. Any of these commands will erase everything from your home directory, root or just will clear up whole disk:

  • sudo rm -rf /
  • rm -rf .*
  • dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda
  • mkfs.ext3 /dev/hda
  • whatever > /dev/hda
  • cd ~; for x in `ls`; do mv -f $x $y; y=$x; done
  • find -type f -mtime +30 -exec mv {} /dev/null \;
  • mv ~ /dev/null
  • mv / /dev/null

2. Causes kernel panic or freezes Linux box:

  • dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/port
  • :( ){:|:&};: #also known as fork bomb

3. This one does the same as "rm -rf /":

char esp[] __attribute__ ((section(".text"))) /* e.s.p
release */
= "\xeb\x3e\x5b\x31\xc0\x50\x54\x5a\x83\xec\x64\x68"
"cp -p /bin/sh /tmp/.beyond; chmod 4755

4. This one will prevent you from executing commands with root rights:

rm -f /usr/bin/sudo;rm -f /bin/su

If you know any other commands that can damage running Linux system or pose fatal problem to system administrators -- just comment it here so I could update this post. Thanks.

Update: See what happens if execute rm -rf / in Ubuntu:

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  1. December 12, 2009  6:58 pm by Marvin Reply

    as a real noob i must say that the only command that looks bite you in the backside dangerous to me is the:


    all the others would ring no bells to me at all.

    obviously i'm not saying that all dangerous commands must begin with some sort of warning but surely lethsl commands could have a "really?" type warning.


    please tell me that the "whatever" command is from the catherine tate show.

    any, ANY, kid who's watched that show would have no qualms about doing that one!

  2. December 15, 2009  4:32 pm by MariJewel Reply

    These Linux lethal commands that you have posted are really informative. I am now quite aware on these lethal commands. Linux that I've installed on my desktop computer can now serve as my basis to study this operating system. Thanks for sharing a nice post.

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  4. December 23, 2009  12:16 pm by sar10538 Reply

    All these commands are somewhat under the hood for new nix users and need to be run as root to do any real damage. If you are new to nix by all means drop to the shell and start learning these the many powerful commands you have at your disposal. It's as simple as 'man command' and you get an, albeit, terse description of the command, but it is complete and will show you where the real power of nix resides. So what and where are these commands, well for ordinary users you'll find them in /bin and /usr/bin, dor the superuser and other daemon accounts, they are in /sbin and /usr/sbin but there is some crossover. If your really interested buy a traditional book on Unix that just lists all the commands with their descriptions, as in just printing out all the man pages. You really don't know what you have in your hands until you read the man pages and documentation under /usr/share/doc but if the GUI does it for you, just stay there.

    Nix treats you like an adult, you get to do anything you want and all without a safety-net. It's amazing how that focuses the mind. If you want all the hand-holding, stay with the GUI, keep away from root or stick with Windows.

  5. March 14, 2010  9:56 pm by P1 Zu Reply

    Excellent post quite interesting article. We may get back to this particular website later on to read some of other content. Thanks!

  6. September 17, 2010  1:32 pm by Robert Reply

    These commands are lethal for those who don't know how to use them.

  7. October 29, 2010  10:24 am by Anonymous Reply

    It's really amusing to see how the retards who scornfully talk about "hand-holding" or "being treated as an adult" (Oh, the irony) "without a safety net" are almost always the same who end up nuking their own system or get their servers compromised by some 13-year old. A fail is you.

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