How can I symlink a file in Linux?

David Y.

The Problem

How can I create a symbolic link/symlink/shortcut to a file in Linux?

The Solution

A symbolic link (symlink for short) is a file that points to another file or directory. It is similar to a shortcut on Windows. We create symlinks using the ln command with the -s option:

ln -s /path/to/existing/file /path/to/symlink

Note that the path for the symlink’s target is specified first, followed by the path for the symlink itself.

The -s flag tells ln to make a symbolic rather than a hard link. Symbolic links are usable across multiple filesystems, whereas hard links are not. For example, a symbolic link on an ext4 filesystem (commonly used by Linux systems) can refer to a file on an ntfs file system (commonly used by Windows systems).

Note that the symlink will no longer work if the original file is moved or renamed.

To find out more about different kinds of links and the ln command, consult its manual page by typing man ln into your terminal.

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