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I know this looks like a duplicate, but previously asked questions do not answer my question

so in the shell I go to /home directory and create a directory there calling it play

then I go to this directory /home/play, and create two files, first one is a text file, second is a symbolic link to the terminal called tty

now if I use ls -l I get the following output enter image description here

where as if I put ls -lL I get this enter image description here

what is this difference is supposed to mean? what do the question marks stand for?

  • 1
    "second is a symbolic link to the terminal" -- well that's a bit confusing way of putting it, since that's just a symlink to a file called terminal, not to a terminal or the terminal in the usual sense of the word. A link to /dev/tty would be more like the latter. – ilkkachu May 9 '17 at 12:20
33

The -L option tells ls to show information for the target of the link, not the link itself. The red of tty usually indicates a broken link, or a link that points to a non-existent file, which is the case here. Since the destination doesn't exist, ls can't figure out the information to display, so it instead displays question marks.

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