Is it possible and how can I zip a symlink from a linux shell?

2 Answers 2


You can store symlinks as symlinks (as opposed to a copy of the file/directory they point to) using the --symlinks or -y parameters of the zip program.

Assuming foo is a directory containing symlinks:

zip --symlinks -r foo.zip foo/
# or
zip -y -r foo.zip foo/

Which of the flags to use depends on your version of zip; more current versions may support both. Check zip --help or man zip to find the correct one for your situation.

Rar equivalent:

rar a -ol foo.rar foo/

tar stores them as is by default.

tar czpvf foo.tgz foo/

Note that the symlink occupies almost no disk space by itself (just an inode). It's just a kind of pointer in the filesystem, as you probably know.

  • 1
    i can't use tar, but the --symlinks is not working with zip. are you sure it's the default zip package?
    – DucDigital
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 3:33
  • Which distribution you've got? Copyright (c) 1990-2008 Info-ZIP - Type 'zip "-L"' for software license. Zip 3.0 (July 5th 2008). Can you use rar instead? See added example. Commented May 3, 2011 at 3:39
  • Copyright (c) 1990-2006 Info-ZIP. All rights reserved. This is Zip 2.32 probably because of this. i will try rar
    – DucDigital
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 4:03
  • 1
    Splitting hairs, but technically the symlink does occupy disk space, consuming an inode.
    – ttyS0
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 4:06
  • True that. Actually from what I read in the past they were even more like regular files containing the path to the pointed file/directory. Now they're just a special kind of inode if I remember correctly. Commented May 3, 2011 at 4:13

On RHEL 5, we have

$ zip -h
Copyright (C) 1990-2005 Info-ZIP
Type 'zip "-L"' for software license.
Zip 2.31 (March 8th 2005). Usage:
zip [-options] [-b path] [-t mmddyyyy] [-n suffixes] [zipfile list] [-xi list]
  -y   store symbolic links as the link instead of the referenced file
  • Same on OpenSUSE Leap. So it's indeed zip -y -r foo.zip foo/. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 13:33

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