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 it.

A default path is set by the system, but most users modify it to add other command directories. Many user problems related to setting up the environment and accessing the right 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:

Examples—Setting 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- or Korn-shell user initialization file, you would add the following:

export PATH