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I ran dircolors --print-database to show the default dircolors configuration and it included these lines (reformatted for clarity):

# symlink to nonexistent file, or non-stat'able file ...
ORPHAN 40;31;01

# ... and the files they point to
MISSING 00

I understand how a symlink can point to a nonexistent file. But how does it make sense to specify the color of the pointed-to file, since such a file can’t exist in the first place?

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With the -l option, ls displays the target of each symbolic link. If you specify a style for MISSING then this will be used to display the target of a broken link. (If you don’t specify a style, or use the default 00, then the target will be displayed with the same style as is used for the link name itself.)

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