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I am using a scientific software that require softlinks to work with reasonable efficiency. However, I'd also like to sync my data, that must contain bare data from that software (i.e. not packaged inside tar/zip files) over DropBox with BoxCryptor -- a combination that allows neither softlinks nor hardlinks.

I vaguely remember, that in older times unix softlinks were just text files containing the link target, that were then treated specially. Such a concept would probably be compatible.

On Windows I work with this data using cygwin, such that this is not a problem -- cygwin symlinks are either plain text files or an abuse of Window's ".LNK" format, depending on options, i.e. normal files. I was wondering if a similiar behaviour could be achieved on Linux?

This would also help when hosting a Linux guest inside a VM with access to windows directories. For these directories typically real symlinks are not supported either.

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No. Symlinks on Linux are at file-system level. In Windows they're at OS level.

A Linux VM can follow windows links. I don't know about the opposite but I think a win VM can't.

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