symbolic link

<file system>

(Or "symlink", "soft link" (by contrast with "hard link"), "shortcut", "alias") A special type of Unix file which refers to another file by its pathname. A symbolic link is created with the "ln" (link) command:

	ln -s OLDNAME NEWNAME

Where OLDNAME is the target of the link (usually a pathname) and NEWNAME is the pathname of the link itself.

Most operations (open, read, write) on the symbolic link automatically dereference it and operate on its target (OLDNAME). Some operations (e.g. removing) work on the link itself (NEWNAME).

In contrast with hard links, there are no restrictions on where a symbolic link can point, it can refer to a file on another file system, to itself or to a file which does not even exist (e.g. when the target of the symlink is removed). Such problems will only be detected when the link is accessed.

Last updated: 1997-10-22

Nearby terms:

Symbolic Linksymbolic linksymbolic logicSymbolic Mathematical Laboratory

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