LN(1) BSD General Commands Manual LN(1)
link, ln -- make links
ln [-Ffhinsv] source_file [target_file]
ln [-Ffhinsv] source_file ... target_dir
link source_file target_file
The ln utility creates a new directory entry (linked file) which has the same modes as the original file. It is useful for maintaining mul-
tiple copies of a file in many places at once without using up storage for the ``copies''; instead, a link ``points'' to the original copy.
There are two types of links; hard links and symbolic links. How a link ``points'' to a file is one of the differences between a hard and
The options are as follows:
-F If the target file already exists and is a directory, then remove it so that the link may occur. The -F option should be used with
either -f or -i options. If none is specified, -f is implied. The -F option is a no-op unless -s option is specified.
-h If the target_file or target_dir is a symbolic link, do not follow it. This is most useful with the -f option, to replace a symlink
which may point to a directory.
-f If the target file already exists, then unlink it so that the link may occur. (The -f option overrides any previous -i options.)
-i Cause ln to write a prompt to standard error if the target file exists. If the response from the standard input begins with the char-
acter 'y' or 'Y', then unlink the target file so that the link may occur. Otherwise, do not attempt the link. (The -i option over-
rides any previous -f options.)
-n Same as -h, for compatibility with other ln implementations.
-s Create a symbolic link.
-v Cause ln to be verbose, showing files as they are processed.
By default, ln makes 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 sys-
A symbolic link contains the name of the file to which it is linked. The referenced file is used when an open(2) operation is performed on
the link. A stat(2) on a symbolic link will return the linked-to file; an lstat(2) must be done to obtain information about the link. The
readlink(2) call may be used to read the contents of a symbolic link. Symbolic links may span file systems and may refer to directories.
Given one or two arguments, ln creates a link to an existing file source_file. If target_file is given, the link has that name; target_file
may also be a directory in which to place the link; otherwise it is placed in the current directory. If only the directory is specified, the
link will be made to the last component of source_file.
Given more than two arguments, ln makes links in target_dir to all the named source files. The links made will have the same name as the
files being linked to.
When the utility is called as link, exactly two arguments must be supplied, neither of which may specify a directory. No options may be sup-
plied in this simple mode of operation, which performs a link(2) operation using the two passed arguments.
The -h, -i, -n and -v options are non-standard and their use in scripts is not recommended. They are provided solely for compatibility with
other ln implementations.
The -F option is FreeBSD extention and should not be used in portable scripts.
link(2), lstat(2), readlink(2), stat(2), symlink(2), symlink(7)
The ln utility conforms to IEEE Std 1003.2-1992 (``POSIX.2'').
The simplified link command conforms to Version 2 of the Single UNIX Specification (``SUSv2'').
An ln command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
February 14, 2006 BSD