Linux Unix Symbolic Soft and Hard Links with ln Command

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Linux provides different ways to work with files. Generally a file is accessed directly. But there are some situations to create links those are used as original file.

Link Types

As we will see in the following of this tutorial there is two type of links named soft link and hard link. They are both link but their behavior are different from each other.

Hard Link

Hard links are two way links where a change in the link will affect to the original file and also the reverse is true. There are some restrictions for hard links.

  • Hard links can not link directories
  • Hard links can not link to other files systems than source like two separate partition.

Soft or Symbolic Link

Soft links are one way there a change in the link will no affect the source file.

What is ln Linux?

Ln is linux tool to manage symbolic links. ln becomes very useful when there is file restrictions or file name related issues.

Man ln

Man page of ln can be accessed from a linux box like below.

If you prefer web page about ln man look page below.

http://man.he.net/?topic=ln&section=all

As we see ln syntax is like below.

Create Hard Link

We can create hard links by using ln command. We do not need to provide any options. We will just provide the source and destination or hard link path. In this example we will create a hard link name MyInput to the file named myinput.py like below.

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Create Hard Link

Create Hard Link

Create Symbolic Link

Linux provides a mechanism named symbolic link. It can be created a soft link like below. In other ways we call it creating symbolic link Linux. In this exmaple we will create a symbolic or soft link name RealInput where it will point to the myinput.py

Symbolic Link Linux

Symbolic Link Linux

We can see that symbolic link files are shown in different color if bash coloring is enabled. It is shown that RealInput is linked to the file myinput.pywith lscommand.

Remove Symbolic Link

Removing symbolic links is easy as removing file. Rm command is used to remove symbolic link but original file stays without effecting this. We will remove RealInput soft link.

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