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When should I use a trailing slash on a directory?

Does the slash make any difference?

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@PhilippeBlayo, that is why I not linked to How linux handles multiple path separators (/home////username///file). Even if it is closed as duplicate, the question I linked to contains additional information on trailing slashes. –  manatwork Jan 2 '13 at 16:49
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marked as duplicate by manatwork, Stephane Chazelas, Michael Mrozek Jan 2 '13 at 20:46

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The slash gets passed on to the command in the parameter. It is up to the command to decide how to interpret it. For information on specific commands, refer to their documentation (Their man pages, other documentation or their source code). (I know rsync handles it differently and ls doesn't, at least not for normal directories)

According to some other questions, POSIX have some standards, but nothing forces utilities to keep to them.

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GNU ls will dereference symbolic links if passed an argument with a trailing slash. I don't know if this is POSIX behavior, though. –  James Sneeringer Jan 2 '13 at 15:58
    
That is where the "normal directories" part come from... –  Gert van den Berg Jan 2 '13 at 21:14
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