Here’s a proposal I sent in through the support channel as a way for our Insync developer friends to add symlink functionality to 3.x. I’ve also posted it here for your reading pleasure, and to solicit “likes” to help indicate demand.
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Neither Google Drive nor Microsoft OneDrive seem to support true symlinks, so this proposal allows local (Linux side) use of symlinks, with Insync storing their metadata as a normal file in Google Drive or OneDrive.
For the rest of this post, I’ll use “$cloudDrive” to indicate either Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.
Here’s how it works:
On the local Linux file system you have a symlink, such as
/home/user/images which points to a target of
/var/lib/images. For this proposed solution, it doesn’t matter if the target is a file or a directory.
Note that we only expect Insync to sync the symlink itself as a special file, and we do not expect (or want) Insync to sync the target of the symlink.
When Insync encounters a symlink on the local system, it syncs to $cloudDrive a file with the same name as the symlink, but with metadata that describes the symlink. By using the same name for the symlink metafile in $cloudDrive as the symlink on the local system, we implicitly avoid naming conflicts.
So what gets put into the symlink metafile on $cloudDrive? Here’s an example:
# This is a symlink metafile created by Insync to track this symlink on your local filesystem
When Insync is syncing from the cloud to the local file system, it simply re-creates the local symlink based on the metadata.
- Works with Google Drive, OneDrive, and any other $cloudDrive that supports text files
- Very simple conceptual model
- Is self-documenting
- In the case of a restore from $cloudDrive where Insync is not available, these symlink metafiles can be fed into a pretty simple shell script to re-create the local links.
- Naming the special file type in the metadata “symlink” makes it extensible, allowing for potential support of other special file types in the future.