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How to permanently set $PATH on Linux/Unix?


Question

I'm trying to add a directory to my path so it will always be in my Linux path. I've tried:

export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/dir

This works, however each time I exit the terminal and start a new terminal instance, this path is lost, and I need to run the export command again.

How can I do it so this will be set permanently?

2018/06/29
1
901
6/29/2018 8:46:43 AM

Accepted Answer

There are multiple ways to do it. The actual solution depends on the purpose.

The variable values are usually stored in either a list of assignments or a shell script that is run at the start of the system or user session. In case of the shell script you must use a specific shell syntax and export or set commands.

System wide

  1. /etc/environment List of unique assignments, allows references. Perfect for adding system-wide directories like /usr/local/something/bin to PATH variable or defining JAVA_HOME. Used by PAM and SystemD.
  2. /etc/environment.d/*.conf List of unique assignments, allows references. Perfect for adding system-wide directories like /usr/local/something/bin to PATH variable or defining JAVA_HOME. The configuration can be split into multiple files, usually one per each tool (Java, Go, NodeJS). Used by SystemD that by design do not pass those values to user login shells.
  3. /etc/xprofile Shell script executed while starting X Window System session. This is run for every user that logs into X Window System. It is a good choice for PATH entries that are valid for every user like /usr/local/something/bin. The file is included by other script so use POSIX shell syntax not the syntax of your user shell.
  4. /etc/profile and /etc/profile.d/* Shell script. This is a good choice for shell-only systems. Those files are read only by shells in login mode.
  5. /etc/<shell>.<shell>rc. Shell script. This is a poor choice because it is single shell specific. Used in non-login mode.

User session

  1. ~/.pam_environment. List of unique assignments, no references allowed. Loaded by PAM at the start of every user session irrelevant if it is an X Window System session or shell. You cannot reference other variables including HOME or PATH so it has limited use. Used by PAM.
  2. ~/.xprofile Shell script. This is executed when the user logs into X Window System system. The variables defined here are visible to every X application. Perfect choice for extending PATH with values such as ~/bin or ~/go/bin or defining user specific GOPATH or NPM_HOME. The file is included by other script so use POSIX shell syntax not the syntax of your user shell. Your graphical text editor or IDE started by shortcut will see those values.
  3. ~/.profile, ~/.<shell>_profile, ~/.<shell>_login Shell script. It will be visible only for programs started from terminal or terminal emulator. It is a good choice for shell-only systems. Used by shells in login mode.
  4. ~/.<shell>rc. Shell script. This is a poor choice because it is single shell specific. Used by shells in non-login mode.

Notes

Gnome on Wayland starts user login shell to get the environment. It effectively uses login shell configurations ~/.profile, ~/.<shell>_profile, ~/.<shell>_login files.

Manuals

  • environment
  • environment.d
  • bash
  • dash

Distribution specific documentation

Difference between Login Shell and Non-Login Shell?

2020/01/31
252
1/31/2020 6:04:23 AM


In Ubuntu, edit /etc/environment. Its sole purpose is to store Environment Variables. Originally the $PATH variable is defined here. This is a paste from my /etc/environment file:

PATH="/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/games:/usr/local/games"

So you can just open up this file as root and add whatever you want.

For Immediate results, Run (try as normal user and root):

source /etc/environment && export PATH

UPDATE:

If you use zsh (a.k.a Z Shell), add this line right after the comments in /etc/zsh/zshenv:

source /etc/environment

I encountered this little quirk on Ubuntu 15.10, but if your zsh is not getting the correct PATH, this could be why

2018/10/08

Put the export declaration in ~/.bashrc. My .bashrc contains this:

export PATH=/var/lib/gems/1.8/bin:/home/fraxtil/.bin:$PATH
2013/02/01

You may set $PATH permanently in 2 ways.

  1. To set path for particular user : You may need to make the entry in .bash_profile in home directory in the user.

    e.g in my case I will set java path in tomcat user profile

    [tomcat]$ echo "export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/dir" >> /home/tomcat/.bash_profile
    
  2. To set common path for ALL system users, you may need to set path like this :

    [root~]# echo "export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/dir" >> /etc/profile
    
2015/02/25

You can use on Centos or RHEL for local user:

echo $"export PATH=\$PATH:$(pwd)" >> ~/.bash_profile

This add the current directory(or you can use other directory) to the PATH, this make it permanent but take effect at the next user logon.

If you don't want do a re-logon, then can use:

source ~/.bash_profile

That reload the # User specific environment and startup programs this comment is present in .bash_profile


You can also set permanently, editing one of these files:

/etc/profile (for all users)

~/.bash_profile (for current user)

~/.bash_login (for current user)

~/.profile (for current user)

You can also use /etc/environment to set a permanent PATH environment variable, but it does not support variable expansion.

Extracted from: http://www.sysadmit.com/2016/06/linux-anadir-ruta-al-path.html

2018/09/14