Ubuntu Server: Dereference Symbolic Link Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 24 JUN 2014

Symbolic links in Linux is clever, I’ll give them that, but they are a headache, and quite often cause even more headaches than what they are worth as far as I’m concerned. Nevertheless, if you do you a colour-coded shell like the bash that I use on my Ubuntu server installs, then here is a quick way for viewing where exactly those misleading turquoise files and folder actually point to!

To dereference a symbolic link, use GNU readlink:

readlink -f /path/to/symlink

As an added bonus, if you want just the directory of the file a symbolic link links to, wrap everything up in a call to dirname:

dirname $(readlink -f /path/to/symlink)

And now you know exactly what that little bugger is pointing to.

ubuntu black and orange logo

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About Craig Lotter

Software developer, husband and dad to two little girls. Writer behind An Exploring South African. I don’t have time for myself any more.