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Removes an element or symbolic link from a VOB


ProductCommand type
ClearCasecleartool subcommand
ClearCase LTcleartool subcommand



rmelem [ –f·orce ] [ –c·omment comment | –cfi·le comment-file-pname
| –cq·uery | –cqe·ach | –nc·omment ] pname ...


The rmelem command completely deletes one or more elements or symbolic links. In a snapshot view, rmelem also unloads the element from the view.

This command destroys information irretrievably. Use it thoughtfully to avoid compromising your organization's ability to support old releases. In many cases, it is better to use the rmname command.

For each element, rmelem does the following:

  • Removes the entire version tree structure from the VOB database: element object, branch objects, and version objects.
  • Removes all metadata (labels, attributes, hyperlinks, and triggers) attached to the element.
  • Removes all event records for the element.
  • (File elements) Removes the data containers that hold the element's file system data from its source storage pool.
  • Removes all references to the element from versions of the VOB's directory elements. (As a result, subsequent listings and comparisons of those directory versions will be historically inaccurate.)
  • Creates a destroy element event record in the element's VOB; this event record is displayed by lshistory vob:.

For each symbolic link, rmelem does the following:

  • Removes the symbolic link and link object from the VOB.
  • Removes all metadata (attributes and hyperlinks) attached to the symbolic link .
  • Removes all event records for the symbolic link.
  • Removes all references to the symbolic link from versions of the VOB's directory elements. (As a result, subsequent listings and comparisons of those directory versions will be historically inaccurate.)

Note: rmelem does not create an event record when you remove a symbolic link.

rmelem deletes only the instance of an element type object that is attached to the element. To delete the element type object or to delete the type object and all its instances, use the rmtype command.

Deleting a Directory Element

Deleting a directory element may cause some other elements (and symbolic links, if the VOB is replicated) to be orphaned; that is, it is no longer cataloged in any version of any directory. rmelem displays a message and moves an orphaned element or symbolic link to the VOB's lost+found directory:

cleartool: Warning: Object "foo.c" no longer referenced.
cleartool: Warning: Moving object to vob lost+found directory
as "foo.c.a0650992e2b911ccb4bc08006906af65".

Each derived object in the deleted directory is also moved to lost+found. (Only dynamic views have derived objects.) The derived object has no data, but you can use it in such commands as lsdo and catcr. View-private objects in the deleted directory are temporarily stranded, but can be transferred to the view's own lost+found directory, as follows:

  1. Use lsprivate to locate stranded files and to determine the identifier of the deleted directory element:

    cmd-context  lsprivate –invob /tmp/david_phobos_hw 

  2. Use recoverview to move all the stranded files that resided in the deleted directory:

    cmd-context  recoverview –dir c8051152.e2ba11cc.b4c0.08:00:69:06:af:65 –tag myview 
    Moved file /usr/people/david/myview.vws/.s/lost+found/5ECC880E.00A5.myfile

Deleting Elements and Symbolic Links from the lost+found Directory

Use rmelem carefully when deleting elements or symbolic links from the lost+found directory. While the content of lost+found is typically unwanted elements and symbolic links, in some circumstances it can contain elements that are cataloged elsewhere in the VOB (that is, not orphaned). For this reason, we do not recommend executing rmelem recursively in lost+found.

If you need an element in lost+found, catalog it in a versioned directory using mv.



You must be the project owner, the project VOB owner, the symbolic link owner, or any of the following:

  • root (UNIX)
  • Member of the ClearCase administrators group (ClearCase on Windows)
  • Local administrator of the ClearCase LT server host (ClearCase LT on Windows)

If the element you are trying to remove has no versions with attached metadata and you created all branches, you need only be the element owner.


An error occurs if one or more of these objects are locked: VOB, element type, element, pool (nondirectory elements).


(Replicated VOBs) Your current replica must master the element or symbolic link.


You cannot remove an element if any of its versions are checked out. (You do not have to check out the parent directory before removing one of its elements.)


Confirmation Step

rmelem prompts for confirmation before deleting anything.

Suppresses the confirmation step.

Event Records and Comments

Creates one or more event records, with commenting controlled by your .clearcase_profile file (default: –nc). See the comments reference page. Comments can be edited with chevent.

–c·omment comment | –cfi·le comment-file-pname |–cq·uery | –cqe·ach | –nc·omment
Overrides the default with the option you specify.

Specifying the Elements to Be Removed


pname ...
One or more pathnames, indicating the elements or symbolic links to be deleted. An extended pathname to a particular version or branch of an element references the element itself.


The UNIX examples in this section are written for use in csh. If you use another shell, you may need to use different quoting and escaping conventions.

The Windows examples that include wildcards or quoting are written for use in cleartool interactive mode. If you use cleartool single-command mode, you may need to change the wildcards and quoting to make your command interpreter process the command appropriately.

In cleartool single-command mode, cmd-context represents the UNIX shell or Windows command interpreter prompt, followed by the cleartool command. In cleartool interactive mode, cmd-context represents the interactive cleartool prompt.

Note: In the UNIX examples that follow, arguments and output that show multicomponent VOB tags are not applicable to ClearCase LT, which recognizes only single-component VOB tags. In this manual, a multicomponent VOB tag is by convention a two-component VOB tag of the form /vobs/vob-tag-leaf—for example, /vobs/src. A single-component VOB tag consists of a leaf only—for example, /src. In all other respects, the examples are valid for ClearCase LT.

  • Delete the file element rotate.c.

    cmd-context  rmelem rotate.c 
    Element "rotate.c" has 1 branches, 2 versions, and is entered
    in 6 directory versions.
    Remove element, all its branches and versions and modify all directory
    versions containing element? [no]
    Removed element "rotate.c".

  • Delete the directory element release. Note that an orphaned element, hello, is moved to the VOB's lost+found directory.

    cmd-context rmelem release 
    Element "release" has 1 branches, 9 versions, and is entered
    in 35 directory versions.
    Remove element, all its branches and versions and modify all directory
    versions containing element? [no]
    cleartool: Warning: Object "hello" no longer referenced.
    Object moved to vob lost+found directory as
    Removed element "release".

  • Delete the symbolic link text.c from the lost+found directory.

    cmd-context rmelem \dev\lost+found\text.c 
    CAUTION! This will destroy the symbolic link, and will remove the
    symbolic link from all directory versions that now contain it.  Once you
    destroy the  symbolic link, it will be hard to restore it to its current
    state. If you want to preserve the symbolic link, but remove references
    to it from future directory versions, use the "rmname" command.
    Symbolic link "text.c" is entered in 3 directory versions.
    Destroy symbolic link?
    Removed symbolic link "text.c".



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