System Administration Guide: Basic Administration

The PATH Variable

When the user executes a command by using the full path, the shell uses that path to find the command. However, when users specify only a command name, the shell searches the directories for the command in the order specified by the PATH variable. If the command is found in one of the directories, the shell executes the command.

A default path is set by the system. However, most users modify it to add other command directories. Many user problems related to setting up the environment and accessing the correct version of a command or a tool can be traced to incorrectly defined paths.

Setting Path Guidelines

Here are some guidelines for setting up efficient PATH variables:

Setting a User's Default Path

This is an example of how to set a user's default path.

The following examples show how to set a user's default path to include the home directory and other NFS mounted directories. The current working directory is specified first in the path. In a C-shell user initialization file, you would add the following:

set path=(. /usr/bin $HOME/bin /net/glrr/files1/bin)

In a Bourne-shell or Korn-shell user initialization file, you would add the following:

export PATH