Could rm remove files and folders with colon in their name?

Mario Emmenlauer
Wed Nov 10 09:45:53 GMT 2021

Dear All,

I've searched if this topic has come up before but could not find it.

Could 'rm' support removing files and folders that have a colon ':' in
their name? I.e. I would like that 'rm -fr' would remove a full directory
tree, including such folders. Currently it will correctly remove anything
inside such folders, but not the folder itself.

As an example, for the following structure:

When using 'rm -fr root', afterwards I have:

To remove everything, I can use 'find root -depth -exec rmdir \{\} \;'

I understand that files and folders with colon in their name are illegal
on Windows and not supported very well. But a number of tools manage to
create (and also remove) such files. I've found that even the native
'del' can support this when using the UNC name (see for example It would be great if Cygwin could
also feature this support.

All the best,


PS: These folders are created when I use the Cygwin-based build system
for ICU (see
For me this is in a combination with native Perl for Windows (ActivePerl,
in my case), and using absolute build paths. After using ICU's build
system, I can not remove the build tree anymore. It may be possible to
solve this on the ICU side too. But their automake-and-Perl-based path
mangling is not easily modified, and I've failed to isolate the root
cause of the illegal paths.

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