In multiple open source projects, I have seen people do
os.path.realpath derefences symbolic links on those operating systems which support them.
os.path.abspath simply removes things like '~' (Home directory), '.' and '..' from the path giving a full path from the root of the directory tree to the named file (or symlink)
For example, on Ubuntu
$ ls -l total 0 -rw-rw-r-- 1 guest guest 0 Jun 16 08:36 a lrwxrwxrwx 1 guest guest 1 Jun 16 08:36 b -> a $ python Python 2.7.11 (default, Dec 15 2015, 16:46:19) [GCC 4.8.4] on linux2 Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. >>> from os.path import abspath,realpath >>> abspath('b') '/home/guest/play/paths/b' >>> realpath('b') '/home/guest/play/paths/a' >>>
Symlinks can contain relative paths, hence the need to use both. The inner call to
realpath might return a path with embedded ".." parts, which
abspath then removes.