ln — make links between files


ln [OPTION...] [−T] TARGET LINK_NAME (1st form)

ln [OPTION...] TARGET (2nd form)

ln [OPTION...] TARGET... DIRECTORY (3rd form)

ln [OPTION...] −t DIRECTORY TARGET... (4th form)


In the 1st form, create a link to TARGET with the name LINK_NAME. In the 2nd form, create a link to TARGET in the current directory. In the 3rd and 4th forms, create links to each TARGET in DIRECTORY. Create hard links by default, symbolic links with −−symbolic. By default, each destination (name of new link) should not already exist. When creating hard links, each TARGET must exist. Symbolic links can hold arbitrary text; if later resolved, a relative link is interpreted in relation to its parent directory.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.


make a backup of each existing destination file


like −−backup but does not accept an argument

−d, −F, −−directory

allow the superuser to attempt to hard link directories (note: will probably fail due to system restrictions, even for the superuser)

−f, −−force

remove existing destination files

−i, −−interactive

prompt whether to remove destinations

−L, −−logical

dereference TARGETs that are symbolic links

−n, −−no−dereference

treat LINK_NAME as a normal file if it is a symbolic link to a directory

−P, −−physical

make hard links directly to symbolic links

−r, −−relative

create symbolic links relative to link location

−s, −−symbolic

make symbolic links instead of hard links

−S, −−suffix=SUFFIX

override the usual backup suffix

−t, −−target−directory=DIRECTORY

specify the DIRECTORY in which to create the links

−T, −−no−target−directory

treat LINK_NAME as a normal file always

−v, −−verbose

print name of each linked file


display this help and exit


output version information and exit

The backup suffix is '~', unless set with −−suffix or SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX. The version control method may be selected via the −−backup option or through the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable. Here are the values:

none, off

never make backups (even if −−backup is given)

numbered, t

make numbered backups

existing, nil

numbered if numbered backups exist, simple otherwise

simple, never

always make simple backups

Using −s ignores −L and −P. Otherwise, the last option specified controls behavior when a TARGET is a symbolic link, defaulting to −P.


Written by Mike Parker and David MacKenzie.


Report ln bugs to bug−

GNU coreutils home page: <>

General help using GNU software: <>

Report ln translation bugs to <>


link(2), symlink(2)

The full documentation for ln is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and ln programs are properly installed at your site, the command

  • info coreutils 'ln invocation'

should give you access to the complete manual.


Copyright © 2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.

This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.