How to symlink a file in Linux?

chrissygormley Source

I want to make a symbolic link in Linux. I have written this bash command where the first path is the folder I want link into and the second path is the compiled source.

ln -s '+basebuild+'/IpDome-kernel/kernel /home/build/sandbox/gen2/basebuild/IpDome-kernel/kernal 

Is this correct?



answered 9 years ago hsz #1

To create a new symlink (will fail if symlink exists already):

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

To create or update a symlink:

ln -sf /path/to/file /path/to/symlink

answered 9 years ago rui #2

ln -s target linkName

You can have a look at the man page here:

answered 9 years ago cyborg #3


Where the -s makes it symbolic.

answered 9 years ago miku #4

ln [-Ffhinsv] source_file [target_file]

    link, ln -- make links

        -s    Create a symbolic link.

    A symbolic link contains the name of the file to which it is linked. 

    An ln command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.

answered 9 years ago codaddict #5


answered 5 years ago Rob M #6

ln -s source_file target_file

answered 5 years ago vernonner3voltazim #7

I'd like to present a plainer-English version of the descriptions already presented.

 ln -s  /path-text/of-symbolic-link  /path/to/file-to-hold-that-text

The "ln" command creates a link-FILE, and the "-s" specifies that the type of link will be symbolic. An example of a symbolic-link file can be found in a WINE installation (using "ls -la" to show one line of the directory contents):

 lrwxrwxrwx 1 me power 11 Jan  1 00:01 a: -> /mnt/floppy

Standard file-info stuff is at left (although note the first character is an "l" for "link"); the file-name is "a:" and the "->" also indicates the file is a link. It basically tells WINE how Windows "Drive A:" is to be associated with a floppy drive in Linux. To actually create a symbolic link SIMILAR to that (in current directory, and to actually do this for WINE is more complicated; use the "winecfg" utility):

 ln -s  /mnt/floppy  a:   //will not work if file a: already exists

answered 5 years ago Fizer Khan #8

If you are in the directory where you want to create symlink, then ignore second path.

cd myfolder
ln -s target

It will create symlink of target inside myfolder.

General syntax


answered 4 years ago Brady Trainor #9

(Because an ASCII picture is worth a thousand characters.)

An arrow may be a helpful mnemonic, especially since that's almost exactly how it looks in Emacs' dired.

And big picture so you don't get it confused with the Windows' version


ln -s target <- linkName


mklink linkName -> target

You could also look at these as

ln -s "to-here" <- "from-here"
mklink "from-here" -> "to-here"

The from-here should not exist yet, it is to be created, while the to-here should already exist (IIRC).

(I always get mixed up on whether various commands and arguments should involve a pre-existing location, or one to be made.)

EDIT: It's still sinking in slowly for me; I have another way I've written in my notes.

ln -s (target exists) (link is made)
mklink (link is made) (target exists)

answered 4 years ago Mike #10

To the original question:

'ln -s '+basebuild+'/IpDome-kernel/kernel /home/build/sandbox/gen2/basebuild/IpDome-kernel/kernal'

This will indeed create a symbolic link (-s) from the file/directory:


to your new link


Here's a few ways to help you remember:

First, there's the man page for ln. You can access this via searching "man ln" in google, or just open a terminal window and type man ln and you'll get the same information. The man page clearly states:

ln [OPTION]... [-T] TARGET LINK_NAME (1st form)

If having to search or read through a man page every time isn't for you, maybe you'll have an easier time remembering that all nix commands work the same way:

cp /file/that/exists /location/for/new/file
mv /file/that/exists /location/its/moving/to
ln /file/that/exists /the/new/link

cp copies a file that currently exists (the first argument) to a new file (the second argument).
mv moves a file that currently exists (the first argument) to a new place (the second argument)

Likewise ln links a file that currently exists (the first argument) to a new link (the second argument)*

The final option I would like to suggest is you can create your own man pages that are easy to read and easy (for you) to find/remember. Just make a simple shell script that gives you the hint you need. For example:

In your .bash_aliases file you can place something like:

commandsfx() {
    echo "Symlink:  ln -s /path/to/file /path/to/symlink"
    echo "Copy:     cp /file/to/copy /destination/to/send/copy"

alias 'cmds'=commandsfx

Then when you need it, from the command line just type cmds and you'll get back the proper syntax in a way you can quickly read and understand it. You can make these functions as advanced as you'd like to get what what information you need, it's up to you. You could even make them interactive so you just have to follow the prompts.. something like:

makesymlink() {
    echo "Symlink name:"
    read sym
    echo "File to link to:"
    read fil
    ln -s $fil $sym

alias 'symlink'=makesymlink

* - well obviously they can all take different parameters and do different things and can work on files as well as directories... but the premise is the same
♦ - examples using the bash shell

answered 3 years ago simranjeet #11

ln -s sourcepath linkpathname


-s makes symbolic links instead of hard links

answered 3 years ago Vayodya Tamari #12

How to create symlink in vagrant. Steps:

  1. In vagrant file create a synced folder. e.g config.vm.synced_folder "F:/Sunburst/source/sunburst/lms", "/source" F:/Sunburst/source/sunburst/lms :- where the source code, /source :- directory path inside the vagrant
  2. Vagrant up and type vagrant ssh and go to source directory e.g cd source
  3. Verify your source code folder structure is available in the source directory. e.g /source/local
  4. Then go to the guest machine directory where the files which are associate with the browser. After get backup of the file. e.g sudo mv local local_bk
  5. Then create symlink e.g sudo ln -s /source/local local. local mean link-name (folder name in guest machine which you are going to link) if you need to remove the symlink :- Type sudo rm local

answered 2 years ago Ankit Raj #13

Creating Symbolic links or Soft-links on Linux:

Open Bash prompt and type the below mentioned command to make a symbolic link to your file:

A) Goto the folder where you want to create a soft link and typeout the command as mentioned below:

$ ln -s (path-to-file) (symbolic-link-to-file)

$ ln -s /home/user/file new-file

B) Goto your new-file name path and type:

$ ls -lrt (To see if the new-file is linked to the file or not)


ls -lrt

lrwxrwxrwx 1 user user 24 Aug 6 23:40 new-file -> /home/user/file

Note: Where, A -> B Means, A is symbolically linked to B

answered 1 year ago wpp #14

There are two types of links:

symbolic links: Refer to a symbolic path indicating the abstract location of another file

hard links: Refer to the specific location of physical data.

In your case symlinks:

ln -s source target

you can refer to

you can create too hard links

A hard link to a file is indistinguishable from the original directory entry; any changes to a file are effectively independent of the name used to reference the file. Hard links may not normally refer to directories and may not span file systems.

ln source link

answered 1 year ago Prem S #15

To create a symbolic link /soft link, use:

ln -s {source-filename} {symbolic-filename}


ln -s file1 link1

answered 11 months ago mmmdearte #16

I find a bit confusing the terminologies "target" and "directory" in the man information.

The target is the folder that we are symlinking to and the directory the actual symlink (not the directory that you will be symlinking to), if anyone is experiencing the same confusion, don't feel alone.

This is my interpretation of creating a Symlink (in linux):


You can navigate to the folder where you want to create the symlink and run the command or specify the FULL PATH for your symlink instead of NAME-OF-YOUR-SYMLINK.




I hope this helps to those (still) slighly confused.

answered 8 months ago Garo #17

This is Stack Overflow so I assume you want code:

All following code assumes that you want to create a symbolic link named /tmp/link that links to /tmp/realfile.

CAUTION: Although this code checks for errors, it does NOT check if /tmp/realfile actually exists ! This is because a dead link is still valid and depending on your code you might (rarely) want to create the link before the real file.

Shell (bash, zsh, ...)

ln -s /tmp/realfile /tmp/link

Real simple, just like you would do it on the command line (which is the shell). All error handling is done by the shell interpreter. This code assumes that you have a working shell interpreter at /bin/sh .

If needed you could still implement your own error handling by using the $? variable which will only be set to 0 if the link was successfully created.

C and C++

#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main () {
  if( symlink("/tmp/realfile", "/tmp/link") != 0 )
    perror("Can't create the symlink");

symlink only returns 0 when the link can be created. In other cases I'm using perror to tell more about the problem.


if( symlink("/tmp/realfile", "/tmp/link") != 1) {
  print STDERR "Can't create the symlink: $!\n"

This code assumes you have a perl 5 interpreter at /usr/bin/perl. symlink only returns 1 if the link can be created. In other cases I'm printing the failure reason to the standard error output.

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