Link me up, Scotty!
One compelling feature in the Linux file system is the file link. A link is a reference to a file, so that you can let files be seen in multiple locations of the file system. However, in Linux, a link can be treated as the original file. A link can be executed, edited, and accessed without having to do anything unusual. As far as other applications on the system are concerned, a link is the original file. When you make edits to a file through the link, you are editing the original. A link is not a copy. There are two kinds of links: a hard link and a symbolic link.
A hard link can only reference files in the same file system. It provides a reference to the file's physical index (also called an inode) in the file's system. Hard links do not break when you move the original file around because they all point to the file's physical data rather than its location in the file structure. A hard-linked file does not require the user to have access rights to the original file and does not show the location of the original, so it has some security advantages. If you delete a file that has been hard linked, the file remains until all references have been deleted as well.
A symbolic link is a pointer to a file's location in the file system. Symbolic links can span file systems and can even point to files in a remote file system. A symbolic link shows the location of the original file and requires a user to have access rights to the original file's location in order to use the link. If the original file is deleted, all of the symbolic links become broken. They will point to a non-existent location in the file system.
Both types of links can be made with the command
<source> <target>. By default
ln will make a hard link. The
-s switch will make a symbolic link.
# Create a hard link from MyFile in the current
# directory to /YourDir/MyFile
ln MyFile /YourDir
# Create a symbolic (soft) link from MyFile in
# the current directory to /YourDir/YourFile
ln -s MyFile /YourDir/Yourfile
In the above examples, MyFile, /YourDir/MyFile, and /YourDir/Yourfile are all treated as the same file.
Coming out of your shell
Learning to work from the console is a necessary skill for Linux
administration. There are tools to avoid the console, but you will always
be more limited by what you can do through a tool. Accessing a console is
easy, and accessing command documentation is easy too with the