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 Creating symbolic links

The symbolic link is particularly interesting for beginning users: they are fairly obvious to see and you don't need to worry about partitions.

The command to make links is ln. In order to create symlinks, you need to use the -s option:

ln -s targetfile linkname

In the example below, user freddy creates a link in a subdirectory of his home directory to a directory on another part of the system:

freddy:~/music> ln -s /opt/mp3/Queen/ Queen

freddy:~/music> ls -l
lrwxrwxrwx  1 freddy  freddy  17 Jan 22 11:07 Queen -> /opt/mp3/Queen

Symbolic links are always very small files, while hard links have the same size as the original file.

The application of symbolic links is widespread. They are often used to save disk space, to make a copy of a file in order to satisfy installation requirements of a new program that expects the file to be in another location, they are used to fix scripts that suddenly have to run in a new environment and can generally save a lot of work. A system admin may decide to move the home directories of the users to a new location, disk2 for instance, but if he wants everything to work like before, like the /etc/passwd file, with a minimum of effort he will create a symlink from /home to the new location /disk2/home.

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