Linux Symbolic Linking not working as expected

JM4 asked:

I have achieved my “goal” several times before but am running into an issue I have not yet experienced before. I have a webserver setup with Nginx on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. I have my system setup the way I normally would and am attempting to create a symbolic link for the site “virtual host” from the sites-available to the sites-enabled directory. Typically, this is achieve with the following from the primary nginx directory (as root):

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/ /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

While I can move into the enabled directory and view the symbolic link has “worked”, when I try and edit the file directly in the sites-enabled directory I see the file is blank and treated as a new file. As a result, my server does not work as expected and pages do not load. When I simply hard copy or hard link the file into the directory:

ln /etc/nginx/sites-available/ /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

It works without any issue. I however am stuck with two copies of the same file and no symbolic link.

What the heck gives?

Note: here is the structure of my current Nginx directory: ls -l
total 44
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Mar  4 17:28 conf.d
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  964 Feb 12 08:41 fastcgi_params
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2837 Feb 12 08:41 koi-utf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2223 Feb 12 08:41 koi-win
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3463 Feb 12 08:41 mime.types
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1022 Mar  4 21:15 nginx.conf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  596 Feb 12 08:41 scgi_params
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Mar  4 21:15 sites-available
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Mar  4 21:19 sites-enabled
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  623 Feb 12 08:41 uwsgi_params
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3610 Feb 12 08:41 win-utf

Thank you for your help ahead of time!

Edit 1:
Showing the contents of the sites-enabled folder with ls -l: ls -l
total 0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 3 Mar  5 10:23 www -> www

Final Answer

So after help from the @Insyte and @Michael Hampton, I figured out how to reproduce my error occassionally. The scenario played out as follows: cd sites-available ls
www ln -s www /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/www cd /etc/nginx/sites-enabled ls -l
total 0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 3 Mar  5 10:48 www -> www

I am not aware of “why” but turns out that if I use full absolute paths each time then the issue does not exist.

My answer:

You’ve somehow managed to create a symbolic link that links to itself. I didn’t even know you could do that, but I’m quite sure it won’t have the result you want.

To fix it, remove the symlink and recreate it correctly.

rm -f /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/www

Or just use the -f option to ln and it may remove the invalid symlink for you.

ln -fs /etc/nginx/sites-available/www /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/www

View the full question and answer on Server Fault.

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