Symbolic links and SMB clients

OneFS enables SMB2 clients to access symbolic links in a seamless manner. Many administrators deploy symbolic links to virtually reorder file system hierarchies, especially when crucial files or directories are scattered around an environment.

In an SMB share, a symbolic link (also known as a symlink or a soft link) is a type of file that contains a path to a target file or directory. Symbolic links are transparent to applications running on SMB clients, and they function as typical files and directories. Support for relative and absolute links is enabled by the SMB client. The specific configuration depends on the client type and version.

A symbolic link that points to a network file or directory that is not in the path of the active SMB session is referred to as an absolute (or remote) link. Absolute links always point to the same location on a file system, regardless of the present working directory, and usually contain the root directory as part of the path. Conversely, a relative link is a symbolic link that points directly to a user's or application's working directory, so you do not have to specify the full absolute path when creating the link.

OneFS exposes symbolic links through the SMB2 protocol, enabling SMB2 clients to resolve the links instead of relying on OneFS to resolve the links on behalf of the clients. To transverse a relative or absolute link, the SMB client must be authenticated to the SMB shares that the link can be followed through. However, if the SMB client does not have permission to access the share, access to the target is denied and Windows will not prompt the user for credentials.

SMB2 and NFS links are interoperable for relative links only. For maximum compatibility, create these links from a POSIX client.

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SMB1 clients (such as Windows XP or 2002) may still use relative links, but they are traversed on the server side and referred to as "shortcut files." Absolute links do not work in these environments.