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Please see the screenshot. For two times I have run ln -s and it creates a copy of a small text file instead of linking it. The exact command I have run is:

lobianco@lobianco-officeLaptopLatitude:~/Dropbox/Documenti/Varie/lef/papers/ffsm++/versions/07_carbon_balance_with_multipliers$ ln -s ../../../00_common/biblio.bib .

Having thought that the problem is with using the . syntax, I have run the command:

lobianco@lobianco-officeLaptopLatitude:~/Dropbox/Documenti/Varie/lef/papers/ffsm++/versions/07_carbon_balance_with_multipliers$ ln -s ../../../00_common/biblio.bib bibliolink.bib

At that time I effectively had a link. But at that point, I have re-run the first command, and again I had a link, even using the . syntax! So, what did happened?

screenshot

(Note: Unfortunately I don't have a screenshot of the two files initially copied, but I am sure it was a copy and not a link. Aside Nautilus telling me it was a text file and not a link, I have opened both the original and the copy with Kate and tested that changes in the original didn't propagate to the copy. I am using Ubuntu 14.04)

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    The screenshot doesn't show, but you could have this on a mounted filesystem which doesn't support symbolic links. – Thomas Dickey Aug 5 '16 at 9:14
  • Thanks for the quick reply. I didn't specified, but it's a normal ext3 filesys. – Antonello Aug 5 '16 at 9:19
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I only can guess cause of having no dropbox install, but did you check if the dropbox daemon will change a symbolic link to a real file ?

  • Not normally, as symbolic links pointing to a file that it also resides within the sync folder are left as such. That's said, I too suspect that it must have been some sort of interaction with the dropbox daemon to have caused such behaviour.. good to know.. – Antonello Aug 5 '16 at 12:14

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