How do I copy a symbolic link?

I have a symbolic link to a file in one directory. I would like to have that same link in another directory. How do I copy a symbolic link?

I tried to cp the symbolic link but this copies the file it points to instead of the symbolic link itself.

Asked By: User


Check this answer for a specifically CentOS take on the problem. The whole question might help you but the bit at the bottom is specifically CentOS.

Answered By: Simon Hoare

Use cp -P (capital P) to never traverse any symbolic link and copy the symbolic link instead.

This can be combined with other options such as -R to copy a directory hierarchy — cp -RL traverses all symbolic links to directories, cp -RP copies all symbolic links as such. cp -R might do one or the other depending on the unix variants; GNU cp (as found on CentOS) defaults to -P.

Even with -P, you can copy the target of a symbolic link to a directory on the command line by adding a / at the end: cp -RP foo/ bar copies the directory tree that foo points to.

GNU cp has a convenient -a option that combines -R, -P, -p and a little more. It makes an exact copy of the source (as far as possible), preserving the directory hierarchy, symbolic links, permissions, modification times and other metadata.

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