Question: How do I remove a symbolic link without deleting the file in Linux?

Question: How do I remove a symbolic link without deleting the file in Linux?

To remove a symbolic link, use either the rm or unlink command followed by the name of the symlink as an argument. When removing a symbolic link that points to a directory do not append a trailing slash to the symlink name.

delete a symbolic link is the same as removing a real file or directory. ls -l command shows all links with second column value 1 and the link points to original file. Link contains the path for original file and not the contents.

To delete a file that is a symbolic link, you enter rm against the symbolic link name. This removes the link, not the file it refers to. When you delete a file that is symbolically linked, any remaining symbolic links refer to a file that no longer exists.

The unlink command is used to remove a single file and will not accept multiple arguments. It has no options other than –help and –version . The syntax is simple, invoke the command and pass a single file name as an argument to remove that file. If we pass a wildcard to unlink, you will receive an extra operand error.

If a symbolic link is deleted, its target remains unaffected. If a symbolic link points to a target, and sometime later that target is moved, renamed or deleted, the symbolic link is not automatically updated or deleted, but continues to exist and still points to the old target, now a non-existing location or file.

To delete a symbolic link, treat it like any other directory or file. If you created a symbolic link using the command shown above, move to the root directory since it is “Docs” and use the rmdir command. If you created a symbolic link () of a file, to delete a symbolic link use the del command.

unlink() deletes a name from the file system. If that name was the last link to a file and no processes have the file open, the file is deleted and the space it was using is made available for reuse.

UNIX Symbolic link or Symlink Tips

  1. Use ln -nfs to update the soft link. …
  2. Use pwd in a combination of UNIX soft link to find out the actual path your soft link is pointing out. …
  3. To find out all UNIX soft link and hard link in any directory execute following command “ls -lrt | grep “^l” “.

The reason hard-linking directories is not allowed is a little technical. Essentially, they break the file system structure. You should generally not use hard links anyway. Symbolic links allow most of the same functionality without causing problems (eg ln -s target link ).

To view the symbolic links in a directory:

  1. Open a terminal and move to that directory.
  2. Type the command: ls -la. This shall long list all the files in the directory even if they are hidden.
  3. The files that start with l are your symbolic link files.

In Unix-like operating systems, unlink is a system call and a command line utility to delete files. The program directly interfaces the system call, which removes the file name and (but not on GNU systems) directories like rm and rmdir.

To remove a hyperlink but keep the text, right-click the hyperlink and click Remove Hyperlink. To remove the hyperlink completely, select it and then press Delete.

To create a symbolic link, use the -s ( –symbolic ) option. If both the FILE and LINK are given, ln will create a link from the file specified as the first argument ( FILE ) to the file specified as the second argument ( LINK ).


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