ln - Linux


The ln command in Linux is used to create links between files. By using ln, you can create both hard and symbolic (soft) links. A hard link is an additional name for an existing file on the same filesystem, whereas a symbolic link is a pointer to another file or directory. ln is commonly used for creating shortcuts, avoiding duplications, and linking libraries or files in different directories.


The basic syntax of the ln command is:


If LINK_NAME is omitted, the link will be created in the current directory with the same name as the target.


  • -s, --symbolic: Create a symbolic link, rather than a hard link.
  • -f, --force: Remove existing destination files, useful for updating links without manual unlinking.
  • -i, --interactive: Prompt before removing an existing file. This adds a layer of protection against unintentional file deletion.
  • -n, --no-dereference: Treat LINK_NAME as a normal file if it is a symbolic link to a directory.
  • -v, --verbose: Show what the command is doing, typically used for debugging or verification purposes.
  • -b, --backup: Make a backup of the target before link creation.
  • -P, --physical: Make hard links directly to symbolic links.
  • -L, --logical: Dereference symbolic links passed as TARGET.
  • -T, --no-target-directory: Treat LINK_NAME as a normal file always.
  • -r, --relative: Create symbolic links relative to the link location.


  1. Creating a hard link:
    ln file.txt link-to-file.txt
  2. Creating a symbolic link:
    ln -s /path/to/file.txt /path/to/symlink
  3. Updating a symbolic link with force:
    ln -sf /new/path/to/file.txt /path/to/symlink
  4. Creating verbose output:
    ln -sv /path/to/file.txt /path/to/symlink

Common Issues

  • Permissions: If you don’t have write permissions for the directories you’re linking, ln will fail. Ensure proper permissions are set.
  • Linking across filesystems: Hard links cannot be created across different filesystems; only symbolic links can.
  • Existing Files: Without the -f flag, an error will occur if the LINK_NAME already exists.


ln can be integrated with other commands for scripts or backup systems, such as:

  • Using ln with find to create links in bulk:
    find /path/to/files -type f -name "*.txt" -exec ln -s {} /destination/path \;
  • Combining ln in a backup script to link to the latest backup directory easily.
  • rm: Remove links.
  • ls: List files and can indicate the type of link and where it points.
  • readlink: Displays the value of a symbolic link.

For additional details and further reading about the ln command, visit the official GNU documentation: GNU Coreutils – ln