How to create a soft link in Linux

There are some folders/directories that we use very frequently. It becomes very painful if used long path reach that directory/folder. In Linux, we can use ln -s command to create a soft link to reach the required directory/folder easily.

In above-mentioned command ln create link between files and s makes it symbolic or soft link instead of hard link.

The procedure of creating soft link

We can use a very easy name instead of a long path as link to reach certain directory/folder. Use following to create soft link for long path.

$ ln -s [original file name] [link name]

Soft link in Linux work as file shortcut feature which is used in windows operating systems. Each soft link in Linux has separate lnode value that points to the original file. Soft links can be used across different file systems. If we delete or move the file the soft link will work we have to delete the soft link or edit it otherwise it will remain as dangling pointer.

Soft link contains a path for a folder, not it’s content. A soft link also links to a directory. You can only use soft/symbolic link to link a file across filesystems.

You will see a new simple path directory in the current directory/folder after creating a soft link. You can use the following command to see the long path linked to soft link.

$ [link name] -> [original file name]

If you have colour-coded the files and directories, the soft link paths can be in an exceptional colour than everyday directories. And use the easy route directory on every occasion to attain to the long-path listing. It can save you hundreds of keystrokes and treasured time.

A soft link is also very useful when you have primary data in a directory that can change but this directory is soft lined with another directory that is fixed.  So for all your work, you will be accessing data from soft link that is the same while the underlying primary data directory may change often.

How to remove a soft link in Linux

If you have decided to remove a soft link, it is very simple to do. There are two common commands in Linux to remove soft link.

  • rm command
  • unlike command

You can use these commands as follows:

  • $ rm linkname
  • $ unlike linkname

The above commands will only remove soft link, it will not delete original file or directory that you have linked.

What is a soft link in Linux?

A symlink (also called a symbolic link) is a type of file in Linux that points to another file or a folder on your computer. Symlinks are similar to shortcuts in Windows. Some people call symlinks “soft links” – a type of link in Linux/UNIX systems – as opposed to “hard links.”

How do I create a link to a directory in Linux?

The ln command in Linux creates links between source files and directories.
  1. -s – the command for Symbolic Links.
  2. [target file] – name of the existing file for which you are creating the link.
  3. [Symbolic filename] – name of the symbolic link.

How do you create a symbolic link in Unix?

Replace source_file with the name of the existing file for which you want to create the symbolic link (this file can be any existing file or directory across the file systems). Replace myfile with the name of the symbolic link. The ln command then creates the symbolic link.

How do I find soft links in Linux?

To view the symbolic links in a directory:
  1. Open a terminal and move to that directory.
  2. Type the command: ls -la. This shall long list all the files in the directory even if they are hidden.
  3. The files that start with l are your symbolic link files.

How do I create a soft link?

To make links between files you need to use ln command. A symbolic link (also known as a soft link or symlink) consists of a special type of file that serves as a reference to another file or directory. Unix/Linux like operating systems often uses symbolic links.

Why are there no hard links to directories?

The reason hardlinking directories is not allowed is a little technical. Essentially, they break the file-system structure. You should generally not use hard links anyway. Symbolic links allow most of the same functionality without causing problems (e.g ln -s target link ).

What is the difference between a hard link and a soft symbolic link in Linux?

A symbolic or soft link is an actual link to the original file, whereas a hard link is a mirror copy of the original file. If you delete the original file, the soft link has no value, because it points to a non-existent file.

What is the difference between soft link and hard link in Linux?

A soft link (also known as Symbolic link) acts as a pointer or a reference to the file name. It does not access the data available in the original file.

Soft Link :

Comparison Parameters Hard link Soft link
File system It cannot be used across file systems. It can be used across file systems.
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What is the option to create a hard link for a directory?

The ln command is a standard Unix command utility used to create a hard link or a symbolic link (symlink) to an existing file or directory. The use of a hard link allows multiple filenames to be associated with the same file since a hard link points to the inode of a given file, the data of which is stored on disk.

How can I tell if a directory is hard link?

If you find two files with identical properties but are unsure if they are hardlinked, use the ls -i command to view the inode number. Files that are hardlinked together share the same inode number. The shared inode number is 2730074, meaning these files are identical data.

What happens when you create a hard link?

In order to understand what happens in this action, look at the following: Hard link: -It is a directory entry which associates a name with a file on a file system. That’s why when you create hard link to a text file and then you delete the text file, it erases the entire, total data of the original file.

What is the difference between hard link and symbolic link?

A hard link is essentially a synced carbon copy of a file that refers directly to the inode of a file. Symbolic links on the other hand refer directly to the file which refers to the inode, a shortcut.

How do you update a symbolic link?

How do I remove a soft link?

To remove a symbolic link, use either the rm or unlink command followed by the name of the symlink as an argument. When removing a symbolic link that points to a directory do not append a trailing slash to the symlink name.

What happens when you delete a soft link?

The data blocks contain the “contents” of the file. But if you delete the source file of the symlink ,symlink of that file no longer works or it becomes “dangling link” which points to nonexistent file . Soft link can span across filesystem. Soft links can link both files and directories.

How do I remove a soft link in Windows?

To delete a symbolic link, treat it like any other directory or file. If you created a symbolic link using the command shown above, move to the root directory since it is “\Docs” and use the rmdir command. If you created a symbolic link (<SYMLINK>) of a file, to delete a symbolic link use the del command.