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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
hard link
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file system One of several directory entries which refer to
the same Unix file. A hard link is created with the "ln"
(link) command:
ln old name new name
where old name and new name are pathnames within the
same file system. Hard links to the same file are
indistinguishable from each other except that they have
different pathnames. They all refer to the same inode and
the inode contains all the information about a file.
The standard ln command does not usually allow you to create a
hard link to a directory, chiefly because the standard rm
and rmdir commands do not allow you to delete such a link.
Some systems provide link and unlink commands which give
direct access to the system calls of the same name, for
which no such restrictions apply.
Normally all hard links to a file must be in the same filesystem because a directory entry just relates a pathname to
an inode within the same file system. The only exception is a
The restrictions on hard links to directories and between
file systems are very common but are not mandated by POSIX.
Symbolic links are often used instead of hard links because
they do not suffer from these restrictions.