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Re: Symlinks on Windows

From: Eric Armstrong <Eric.Armstrong_at_Sun.COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2008 13:48:02 -0700

Great stuff, Richard. Thanks.
Sound like the FAQ is definitely up to date!

Whether that 3rd party tool is an interesting question
--but it's very difficult to keep that sort of thing
in sync with OS changes.

richard hornsby wrote:
> To answer your assertion - to the best of my knowledge, feel free to
> correct me - symlinks (*nix) are not the same thing as shortcuts in
> windows. A shortcut is an actual file, usually ending in '.lnk' (ie.
> eclipse.lnk is a binary _file_ containing some kind of information about
> how to find eclipse.exe) The distinction between a symlink and a
> shortcut being a file is important because it takes special effort to
> follow a shortcut -- I can't think of any applications that actually
> honor them outside of the shell (explorer.exe) and the file chooser type
> dialogs - including any microsoft-supplied applications. There may be a
> few out there, not saying there aren't.
> On the other hand, symlinks are actually filesystem level pointers.
> Most stuff I've written (or used) on *nix platforms doesn't care and
> treats the symlink as if it were the file/directory - with no special
> effort - because the filesystem handles it for me. I can examine the
> "file" if I want to see if it is a symlink (apache does this) but it is
> completely optional.
> If you think I'm wrong about shortcuts, try for example going into your
> "Program Files\Internet Explorer" directory. Rename one of the dlls
> (such as ieproxy.dll to ieproxy2.dll). Then create a shortcut to
> ieproxy2.dll, but call it ieproxy.dll (the original name) Internet
> Explorer won't launch until you make the dll the actual library and not
> a shortcut to it. Windows itself does not treat shortcuts in anything
> resembling transparency. There is something called "junctions" which is
> supposed to be more transparent to the application level, but AFAIK it
> isn't well documented or supported.
> http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/FileAndDisk/Junction.mspx
> (also has a link to a KB article.)
> IMHO, the svn FAQ really isn't outdated, as it says "Win32 has no
> symlinks, so a win32 client won't do any such translation: the object
> appears as a normal file." I don't know the internals of subversion,
> but this is a correct statement because the shortcut /is/ a normal file
> to pretty much everything except the windows Explorer shell.
> If you have found a way to make shortcuts be honored by applications
> such as IIS, I would be seriously interested in hearing how you did it.
> -rj
> On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 2:05 PM, Karl Fogel <kfogel_at_red-bean.com
> <mailto:kfogel_at_red-bean.com>> wrote:
> Eric Armstrong <Eric.Armstrong_at_Sun.COM
> <mailto:Eric.Armstrong_at_Sun.COM>> writes:
> > (Please cc me on any replies)
> >
> > This FAQ says that SVN handles symlinks, but
> > "windows doesn't have them":
> > http://subversion.tigris.org/faq.html#symlinks
> >
> > But Windows has had shortcuts for quite a while
> > now. Is the FAQ (hopefully) outdated?
> I think there was some specific reason why we couldn't just implement
> symlinks as shortcuts on Windows, but I don't remember what it was. If
> we find out, we should update the FAQ to talk about it.
> -Karl
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Eric Armstrong, Document Systems Architect, Sun Microsystems
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Received on 2008-03-10 23:25:32 CET

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