Bash Startup Files (Bash Reference Manual)
6.2 Bash Startup Files
This section describes how Bash executes its startup files. If any of the files exist but cannot be read, Bash reports an error. Tildes are expanded in filenames as described above under Tilde Expansion (see Tilde Expansion).
Interactive shells are described in Interactive Shells.
Invoked as an interactive login shell, or with --login
When Bash is invoked as an interactive login shell, or as a non-interactive shell with the
--login option, it first reads and executes commands from the file
/etc/profile, if that file exists. After reading that file, it looks for
~/.profile, in that order, and reads and executes commands from the first one that exists and is readable. The
--noprofile option may be used when the shell is started to inhibit this behavior.
When an interactive login shell exits, or a non-interactive login shell executes the
exit builtin command, Bash reads and executes commands from the file
~/.bash_logout, if it exists.
Invoked as an interactive non-login shell
When an interactive shell that is not a login shell is started, Bash reads and executes commands from
~/.bashrc, if that file exists. This may be inhibited by using the
--norc option. The
--rcfile file option will force Bash to read and execute commands from
file instead of
So, typically, your
~/.bash_profile contains the line
if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]; then . ~/.bashrc; fi
after (or before) any login-specific initializations.
When Bash is started non-interactively, to run a shell script, for example, it looks for the variable
BASH_ENV in the environment, expands its value if it appears there, and uses the expanded value as the name of a file to read and execute. Bash behaves as if the following command were executed:
if [ -n "$BASH_ENV" ]; then . "$BASH_ENV"; fi
but the value of the
PATH variable is not used to search for the filename.
As noted above, if a non-interactive shell is invoked with the
--login option, Bash attempts to read and execute commands from the login shell startup files.
Invoked with name sh
If Bash is invoked with the name
sh, it tries to mimic the startup behavior of historical versions of
sh as closely as possible, while conforming to the POSIX standard as well.
When invoked as an interactive login shell, or as a non-interactive shell with the
--login option, it first attempts to read and execute commands from
~/.profile, in that order. The
--noprofile option may be used to inhibit this behavior. When invoked as an interactive shell with the name
sh, Bash looks for the variable
ENV, expands its value if it is defined, and uses the expanded value as the name of a file to read and execute. Since a shell invoked as
sh does not attempt to read and execute commands from any other startup files, the
--rcfile option has no effect. A non-interactive shell invoked with the name
sh does not attempt to read any other startup files.
When invoked as
sh, Bash enters POSIX mode after the startup files are read.
Invoked in POSIX mode
When Bash is started in POSIX mode, as with the
--posix command line option, it follows the POSIX standard for startup files. In this mode, interactive shells expand the
ENV variable and commands are read and executed from the file whose name is the expanded value. No other startup files are read.
Invoked by remote shell daemon
Bash attempts to determine when it is being run with its standard input connected to a network connection, as when executed by the remote shell daemon, usually
rshd, or the secure shell daemon
sshd. If Bash determines it is being run in this fashion, it reads and executes commands from
~/.bashrc, if that file exists and is readable. It will not do this if invoked as
--norc option may be used to inhibit this behavior, and the
--rcfile option may be used to force another file to be read, but neither
sshd generally invoke the shell with those options or allow them to be specified.
Invoked with unequal effective and real UID/GIDs
If Bash is started with the effective user (group) id not equal to the real user (group) id, and the
-p option is not supplied, no startup files are read, shell functions are not inherited from the environment, the
GLOBIGNORE variables, if they appear in the environment, are ignored, and the effective user id is set to the real user id. If the
-p option is supplied at invocation, the startup behavior is the same, but the effective user id is not reset.