links vs real directories

John Almberg jalmberg at
Mon Mar 16 08:39:43 PDT 2009

On Mar 16, 2009, at 11:22 AM, John Almberg wrote:

> I always thought that links to real directories were pretty much  
> the same as real directories, but I've just discovered a situation  
> where they are not and I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong...
> I have a Ruby on Rails application running on a FreeBSD server. All  
> Rails apps use the same directory structure, that consists of an  
> application directory, plus a number of subdirectories. One of  
> these sub directories is called 'config'.
> I would like to move this config directory out of the main Rails  
> app directory, and then add a link from the app directory to the  
> moved config directory.
> so:
> app --> config
> will become
> app --> config(link) --> config
> Basically, what I'm doing is:
> cd ~/app     # now in directory with real 'config' dir
> mv config ~/shared/config
> ln -s ~/shared/config config
> That moves the directory and creates a functional link to it (I  
> tested it), but Rails doesn't like it and refuses to run the app.  
> The permissions are correct, I believe:
> [master at on:current]> ls -l
> total 34
> ... snip ...
> drwxrwxr-x  3 master  master   512 Mar 16 11:06 bin
> drwxrwxr-x  3 master  master   512 Mar 16 11:06 components
> lrwxr-xr-x  1 master  master    26 Mar 16 11:07 config -> /home/ 
> master/shared/config
> drwxr-xr-x  4 master  master   512 Mar 16 11:06 db
> etc...
> So, I guess a link is NOT exactly equivalent to a directory. At  
> least not the way I am doing it.
> I'm guessing I'm making a real newbie mistake, so if anyone can set  
> me straight, I'd appreciate it.
> Thank: John
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A little more information on this... from the Rails log, I can see  
that a Ruby script in the config directory cannot load ('require') a  
needed file because it can't find it:

`gem_original_require': no such file to load -- application  
(MissingSource     File)

It looks like this require statement is using a relative path, like  
'../path/to/file'. Does '..' not work properly with a soft link? In  
other words, '..', should mean ~/app, but since the config directory  
is really in '~/shared', perhaps '..' translates to '~/shared'? That  
would cause the problem finding the file.

Is there a way around this problem?

Digging in man ls, right now..

-- John

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