Learn how to remove Symbolic Links in Ubuntu Linux



This article outlines the removal of symbolic links in Ubuntu Linux. Symbolic links, created with the ln -s command, sometimes require deletion for system cleanup or to avoid confusion. Steps include opening the terminal, navigating to the symlink’s directory using the cd command, identifying the symlink with ls -l, and deleting it using rm or…

This article explains how to remove or delete symbolic links in Ubuntu Linux.

Symbolic links (or symlinks) are Linux files pointing to another file or directory, allowing users to access files and directories from multiple locations.

Symbolic links can be created using the ln -s command, and are useful for linking libraries, versioning files, and managing configurations. However, there may be situations where you need to remove these links without affecting the original files.

You may need to remove symbolic links in Linux for several reasons. One common reason is to clean up your file system and remove unnecessary or broken links. Additionally, if you have created a symbolic link that is no longer needed, removing it can help reduce clutter and improve system performance.

Another reason for removing symbolic links is to avoid confusion and ensure you access the correct files and directories.

Lastly, when moving files or directories, you may need to remove symbolic links that no longer point to the correct location.

Open the terminal

The terminal is the gateway to performing command-line tasks on Ubuntu Linux. To open the terminal:

  • Press Ctrl + Alt + T on your keyboard. This keyboard shortcut launches the terminal window.

Change to the symbolic link directory

Before you can remove a symbolic link, you need to locate it. You must also have write permissions on the directory containing the symlink.

Use the cd command to navigate to the directory containing the symbolic link.

cd ~/Downloads

Replace ~/Downloads with the actual path to the directory containing your symbolic link.

Identify the symbolic link

To see the symbolic link in the list of files and directories, use the ls -l command, which provides a detailed list, including the symbolic links and their targets.

ls -l

Look for entries that start with lrwx, indicating they are symbolic links.

ls -l /usr/bin/python

The output will also show where the link points to.

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 12 Apr 16  2023 /usr/bin/python -> python2.7

Remove the symbolic link

Use the rm command followed by the name of the symbolic link to remove it. Do not include any slashes or directory names unless the symlink was created with such a path.

rm symlink_name

Replace symlink_name with the actual name of your symbolic link. This command removes the symlink itself, not the target file or directory.

To get prompted before removing the symlink, use the -i option:

rm -i symlink_name

Remove symbolic links with unlink

You can also remove symbolic links using the unlink command. The unlink command deletes a given file.

Unlike the rm command, the unlink command accepts only a single argument.

To delete a symbolic link, run the unlink command followed by the symlink name as an argument:

unlink symlink_name

That should do it!


This post showed you how to remove a symbolic link in Ubuntu Linux. Please use the comments form below if you find errors or have something to add.

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