Here is a little script to retarget old-wrong symlinks that I want to make interactive.

# retarget (broken) symbolink links interactively

echo -n "Enter the source directory where symlinks path should be retargeted > " 
  read response1                                                                   
  if [ -n "$response1" ]; then                                                     

if [ -d $symlinksdirectory ]; then                                                 
  echo -n "Okay, source directory exists. Now enter 1) the symlinks OLD-WRONG target directory > "
  read response2                                                                   
  if [ -n "$response2" ]; then                                                     

  echo -n "$oldtargetdir - And 2) enter the symlinks CORRECT target directory > "
  read response3                                                                   
  if [ -n "$response3" ]; then                                                     

  echo -n "Now parsing symlinks in $symlinksdirectory to retarget them from $oldtargetdir to $goodtargetdir > "
  find $symlinksdirectory -type l | while read nullsymlink ;
  do wrongpath=$(readlink "$nullsymlink") ;
  right=$(echo "$wrongpath" | sed s'|$oldtargetdir|$goodtargetdir|') ;
  ln -fs "$right" "$nullsymlink" ; done                                            

It does not replace the symlinks' path. My bad syntax as it works fine when replacing variables with real paths for sed (end of the script):

right=$(echo "$wrongpath" | sed s'|/mnt/docs/dir2|/mnt/docs/dir1/dir2|') ;

How should I insert variables properly?


The direct answer to your question is "use double quotes" because single quotes prevent all expansions:

 right=$(echo "$wrongpath" | sed "s|$oldtargetdir|$goodtargetdir|")

There's no need for the trailing semicolon; they're only necessary when something follows on the same line (so the one before done is not redundant, though the layout is unorthodox and the done should usually be on a line on its own).

You can also use:


which avoids the overhead of sub-processes.

  • The overhead of subprocesses, is part of my learning process to the kiss graal ;) Also, I bet replacing find type -l ... nullsymlink with find ... -lname 'OLD-PATH' would give a better control on the retargeted links, but that's another post's story. – tuk0z Feb 10 '15 at 18:24

Variables are not expanded in single quotes, but they are in double quotes.

Moreover, you don't need sed for such a simple substitution, you can use parameter expansion:

  • Short, but very clear. Helped to understand Jonathan's first point! – tuk0z Feb 10 '15 at 17:44

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