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wim@wim-desktop:/media/data/dots/manouche$ ls > /dev/null
ls: reading directory .: Too many levels of symbolic links
wim@wim-desktop:/media/data/dots/manouche$ find . -type l -exec ls -l {} \;
wim@wim-desktop:/media/data/dots/manouche$ ls -lR . | grep ^l
ls: reading directory .: Too many levels of symbolic links

I have this problem on my filesystem, and googling suggests there is a circular symbolic link somewhere. But I can't find it, the commands I'm trying to recursively look for links aren't returning any results.

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Try ls -ld, where -d tells to list directory entries instead of contents, and do not dereference symbolic links – mpy May 24 '13 at 14:16
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is not the usual "circular link" error (that's why find doesn't help you). It says,

ls: **reading directory .**: Too many levels of symbolic links

So the error "Too many levels of symbolic links" is occurring while reading the current directory. It looks like a serious bug in either the driver or the physical filesystem; I'd try unmounting and fscking.

The error is caught in print_dir() inside the source of ls coreutil:

  else if (errno != 0)
      file_failure (command_line_arg, _("reading directory %s"), name);
      if (errno != EOVERFLOW)

and is caused by readdir returning ELOOP. It seems to be a bug concerning NFS which should leave traces in your dmesg (dmesg | tail). File system and OS version seem relevant; what are yours?

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It's NFS on a synology NAS, the share is mounted in Ubuntu 13.04. Last line of dmesg was [75632.751021] NFS: directory dots/manouche contains a readdir loop.Please contact your server vendor. The file: ARPEGEDIATONIQUEG7.pdf has duplicate cookie 812789874 – wim May 24 '13 at 15:09
As I feared. The problem is not in the filesystem, it is in the NFS layer of the Synology (see You'll have to switch to CIFS/Samba if possible, or query Synology for a 'firmware' update. There are a couple of hacks described here:… . – lserni May 24 '13 at 15:44
Thanks for your advice, I'm trying a firmware upgrade to DSM-4.2-3211 (was on 4.1-2636) – wim May 24 '13 at 16:29

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