In Linux, files and directories are often accessed through their respective paths. However, it becomes cumbersome when you have to deal with long paths. Luckily, Linux provides a functionality called ‘Soft Linking’ or ‘Symbolic Linking’ which allows you to access files and directories using alternative, and often shorter, paths. This tutorial aims to walk you step-by-step on how to create soft links in Linux.
Understanding Soft Links
A soft link, also known as symbolic link, acts as a shortcut to the original file or directory. It is a file that points to another file. In simpler terms, it’s a pointer to the actual file or directory.
To differentiate a soft link from a regular file, you can use the ls -l command. A soft link file will have its details displayed differently, with an arrow (->) pointing to the location of the original file.
Creating Soft Links
The command used to create a soft link in Linux is the ln command with the -s option. The syntax for the command is as follows:
ln -s [target file or directory] [Symbolic filename]
The [target file or directory] is the original file or directory you want to link to, and the [Symbolic filename] is the name of the soft link you are creating.
ln -s /home/user/documents/report.doc report
In the above example, a soft link named report is created, which points to the report.doc file in the /home/user/documents directory. You can now access the file simply by referring to the soft link ‘report’.
Deleting Soft Links
Deleting a soft link is just as simple as creating one. You use the rm command followed by the name of the symbolic link.
rm [Symbolic filename]
In this example, the soft link ‘report’ is removed. Note that this does not delete the original file, only the soft link.
Soft links in Linux are a powerful tool, making file access easier and more efficient. It’s one more reason why understanding and using the command line can greatly enhance your productivity.