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Using symbolic links for networked volume access Network
I am a Mac/unix lover in a Windows world. So, while I have my Macs able to authenticate against a Windows 2000 Active Directory system, I still run into some squirrelly problems from time to time. The latest was trying to get OpenOffice to open documents on a user's Windows server share, and wanting to store the user's email on the server. To make life easier for the user, I decided to add an alias/link from her desktop to a folder in her Windows share. The problem was, OpenOffice does not understand MacOS links. To solve the problem, I went to the Terminal window, used df to find the correct path to her network directory and used ln -s to create the link. For example, starting with the df output (trimmed for display width):
Filesystem .... .... .... Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/disk0s10          ..    53%    /
devfs                       100%    /dev
fdesc                       100%    /dev
                            100%    /.vol
automount -nsl [370]        100%    /Network
automount -fstab [373]      100%    /automount/Servers
automount -static [373]     100%    /automount/static
//AJ@COOKIE/USERS            43%    /Volumes/users
I know that the directory I want is /Volumes -> users -> someusername -> sourcedirectory, so the ln command I used was:
ln -s /Volumes/users/someusername/importantdirectory \
This puts a link named importantdirectory-shortcut on the user's desktop that takes them to /Volumes -> users -> someusersname -> importantdirectory. OpenOffice, understands and follows this link.

This works well because /Volumes -> users -> someusername is always mounted from the server, because OS X understand the directives from Active Directory to mount network drives when someone logs in. I extended this use of links to the user's support directory under the user's Library folder, too.

I set up the user with her mail account. Then I quit I then went to /Users -> someusername -> Library. In that directory is a folder named Mail. I used the Finder to drag and drop a copy to her Windows share at /Volumes -> users -> someusername. I renamed the ~someusername -> Library -> Mail directory to "save.Mail" for safekeeping, and then, once again, made a symbolic link using:

ln -s /Volumes/users/someusername/Mail /Users/someusername/Library/Mail
This now puts a link in the Library folder to the network folder. Voila, if her Mac craps out for some reason, all her email is still saved on the network and available from another Mac, in an emergency. The added benefit is that the server gets backed up every evening.

I am thinking about moving her complete /Users -> someusername -> Library directory to the server. What would be really cool if someone who is more familiar with login hooks could help me do this automatically for all users who log in.

[robg adds: An earlier hint (the comments, in particular) has further discussion on the differences between symbolic links and aliases...]

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Using symbolic links for networked volume access | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Why is this even a hint?
Authored by: pauljlucas on Jul 01, '04 12:01:01PM

Symbolic links are standard Unix things.

- Paul

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Using symbolic links for networked volume access
Authored by: Uncle Asad on Jul 01, '04 02:20:48PM
Because it's documented in the OOo readme that OOo can't follow Mac aliases?

The two previous OOo hints, while well-known, at least weren't documented in the readme. :-)

Kidding aside, these are UNIX things that a lot of "traditional" Mac users reading this forum won't know. One person's "duh" is another person's hint.

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Using symbolic links for networked volume access
Authored by: Anonymous on Jul 01, '04 04:45:38PM

I do this sort of think a lot. I have an encrypted sparse drive image that I have all my mail and my SSH and GPG keys in. ~/Library/Mail, ~/.gnupg, ~/.ssh & ~/Documents/Receipts are all softlinks back to various directories within /Volumes/LockedFilingCabinet.

As I come up with things that belong in a "locked filing cabinet", I make a place for it on the drive image and a softlink back to a reasonable place in my $HOME.


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