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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.

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Does cp on CentOS support -P or --no-dereference switch? – manatwork Nov 19 '12 at 9:10
@manatwork: Thanks it does just found that. If you want to post it as an answer I'll accept it. – User Nov 19 '12 at 9:14
up vote 15 down vote accepted

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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Beware that once copied/moved, a symlink might become broken (if the source is a symlink to a relative path). – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 10 '13 at 7:03
is there a way to prevent breaking the symlinks if you are moving to a higher or lower directory? – Andrew Brown Mar 20 '14 at 7:05

Check this answer http://superuser.com/a/315757/53590 for a specifically CentOS take on the problem. The whole question might help you but the bit at the bottom is specifically CentOS.

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Note that others may choose a different order than yours for listing the answers. Beside that, the order may change in time. Please post a direct link to the referred answer. (Click the “share” link below that answer and copy the direct link which appears.) – manatwork Nov 19 '12 at 9:30

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