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bash – How to permanently set $PATH on Linux/Unix?

Posted by: admin April 4, 2020 Leave a comment


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?

How to&Answers:

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.


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


  • environment
  • environment.d
  • bash
  • dash

Distribution specific documentation


Difference between Login Shell and Non-Login Shell?


You need to add it to your ~/.profile or ~/.bashrc file. 

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

Depending on what you’re doing, you also may want to symlink to binaries:

cd /usr/bin
sudo ln -s /path/to/binary binary-name

Note that this will not automatically update your path for the remainder of the session. To do this, you should run:

source ~/.profile 
source ~/.bashrc


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:


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


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


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

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


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


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


I stumbled across this question yesterday when searching for a way to add a folder containing my own scripts to the PATH – and was surprised to find out that my own ~/.profile file (on Linux Mint 18.1) already contained this:

# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then

Thus, all I had to do was create the folder ~/bin and put my scripts there.


I think the most elegant way is:

1.add this in ~/.bashrc file
Run this command

gedit ~/.bashrc

add your path inside it

export PATH=$PATH:/opt/node/bin

2.source ~/.bashrc



You can add that line to your console config file (e.g. .bashrc) , or to .profile


Permanently add PATH variable


echo "export PATH=$PATH:/new/path/variable" >> /etc/profile

Local(for user only):

echo "export PATH=$PATH:/new/path/variable" >> ~/.profile

For global restart. For local relogin.



$ cat /etc/profile 


export PATH=/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/sbin


$ cat /etc/profile 


export PATH=/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/sbin
export PATH=/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/new/path/variable

Alternatively you can just edit profile:

$ cat /etc/profile 


export PATH=/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/new/path/variable

Another way(thanks gniourf_gniourf):

echo 'PATH=$PATH:/new/path/variable' >> /etc/profile

You shouldn’t use double quotes here! echo ‘export
PATH=$PATH:/new/path/variable’… And by the way, the export keyword
is very likely useless as the PATH variable is very likely already
marked as exported. – gniourf_gniourf


1.modify “/etc/profile” file.

#vi /etc/profile

Press “i” key to enter editing status and move cursor to the end of the file,Additional entries:

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

Press “Esc” key exit edit status,’:wq’ save the file.

2.Make configuration effective

source /etc/profile

profile file works for all users,if you want to be valid only for the active user, set the “.bashrc” file


the files where you add the export command depends if you are in login-mode or non-login-mode.

if you are in login-mode, the files you are looking for is either /etc/bash or /etc/bash.bashrc

if you are in non-login-mode, you are looking for the file /.profile or for the files within the directory /.profiles.d

the files mentioned above if where the system variables are.


Zues77 has the right idea. The OP didn’t say “how can i hack my way through this”. OP wanted to know how to permanently append to $PATH:

sudo nano /etc/profile

This is where it is set for everything and is the best place to change it for all things needing $PATH


My answer is in reference to the setting-up of go-lang on Ubuntu linux/amd64.I have faced the same trouble of setting the path of environment variables (GOPATH and GOBIN), losing it on terminal exit and rebuilding it using the source <file_name> every time.The mistake was to put the path (GOPATH and GOBIN) in ~/.bash_profile folder. After wasting a few good hours, I found that the solution was to put GOPATH and GOBIN in ~/.bash_rc file in the manner:

export GOPATH=$HOME/go
export GOBIN=$GOPATH/bin

and doing so, the go installation worked fine and there were no path losses.

The reason with which this issue can be related is that settings for non-login shells like your ubuntu terminal or gnome-terminal where we run the go code are taken from ~./bash_rc file and the settings for login shells are taken from ~/.bash_profile file, and from ~/.profile file if ~/.bash_profile file is unreachable.


Let’s say you’re running MacOS and you have a binary you trust and would like to make available across your system but don’t necessarily want the directory in which the binary is to be added to your PATH, you can opt to copy/move the binary to /usr/local/bin, which should already be in your PATH. This will make the binary executable like any other binary you may already have access to in your terminal.


the best simple way is the following line:
PATH="<directory you want to include>:$PATH"
in your .bashrc file in home directory.
It will not get reset even if you close the terminal or reboot your PC. Its permanent


Add to /etc/profile.d folder script [name_of_script].sh with line: export PATH=$PATH:/dir. Every script within /etc/profile.d folder is automaticaly executed by /etc/profile on login.


After so much research, I found a simple solution for this ( I am using elementary OS), inspired by the following link.

Run the following command to open .bashrc file in edit mode. [You
may also use vi or any other editor].

~$ sudo nano ~/.bashrc

Add the following line at the end of the file and save.

export PATH="[FLUTTER_SDK_PATH]/flutter/bin:$PATH"

For Example :

export PATH="/home/rageshl/dev/flutter/bin:$PATH"

enter image description here

I believe this is the permanent solution for setting path in flutter in Ubuntu distro

Hope this will helpful.


I think the most elegant way is:

1.add this in ~./bashrc file

if [ -d "new-path" ]; then

2.source ~/.bashrc



It can be directly added by using the following command:

echo 'export PATH=$PATH:/new/directory' >> ~/.zshrc
source ~/.zshrc


one way to add permanent path, which worked for me, is:

    cd /etc/profile.d
    touch custom.sh
    vi custom.sh 
    export PATH=$PATH:/path according to your setting/

restart your computer and here we go path will there permanently


For debian distribution, you have to:

    - edit ~/.bashrc  e.g: vim ~/.bashrc 
    - add export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/dir
    - then restart your computer. Be aware that if you edit ~/.bashrc  as root, your environment variable you added will work only for root


This is a one-liner. It adds a line to the .bashrc. Tha line is going to check if the directory has already been added to the path and append if not. This will prevent duplicating your directory in the path every time you source .bashrc.

echo "[[ \":$PATH:\" != *\":$(pwd)/path/to/add:\"* ]] && export PATH=\"${PATH:+${PATH}}:$(pwd)/path/to/add\"" >> ~/.bashrc

source ~/.bashrc