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Working with Links in Linux

Understanding how soft and hard links work within Linux is another important skill for a system administrator. This learning activity will help you practice creating these two types of links on a file system, and explore the differences between the two.

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Path Info

Clock icon Beginner
Clock icon 30m
Clock icon Feb 12, 2019

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Table of Contents

  1. Challenge

    Create a Symbolic (soft) Link

    Using the ln command, create a symbolic link from the file /etc/redhat-release to a new link file named release in the cloud_user's home directory. Using the ls command, verify that the link is valid. Use the cat command on the /home/cloud_user/release file to verify its contents.

    Can be completed with:

    ln -s /etc/redhat-release release
    ls -l
    cat /etc/redhat-release
  2. Challenge

    Check the Inode Numbers for the Link

    Using the ls command, first look at the inode number for the /home/cloud_user/release link and then check the inode number for /etc/redhat-release. They should be different, as the symbolic link is just a new file system entry that references the original file.

    Viewing the inodes can be done via:

    ls -i release
    ls -i /etc/redhat-release
  3. Challenge

    Create a Hard Link

    Create a directory called docs in your home directory. Copy the /etc/services file into this new docs directory. Using the ln command again, create a hard link from /home/cloud_user/docs/services to a link file named /home/cloud_user/services. Use the ls command to verify the link's inode number, and the inode number for the original /etc/services file.

    The commands to accomplish this task are:

    mkdir docs
    cp /etc/services docs/
    ln docs/services services
    ls -l
    ls -i services
    ls -i docs/services
  4. Challenge

    Attempt to Create a Hard Link Across File Systems

    Using the ln command, attempt to make a hard link from /home/cloud_user/docs/services to /opt/services (you will have write permissions to this location). Why does this not work?

    To see the behavior of this task, try the following:

    ln docs/services /opt/services
  5. Challenge

    Attempt to Create a Symbolic Link Across File Systems

    Once more using the ln command, attempt to create a soft link from /etc/redhat-release to /opt/release. Why does this work, but creating a hard link fails? Turn the system over for grading when complete.

    Creating the soft link should succeed, even across filesystems, like so:

    sudo ln -s /etc/redhat-release /opt/release
    ls -i /etc/redhat-release
    ls -i /opt/release

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