Home » Is there a “.bashrc” equivalent file read by all shells?

Is there a “.bashrc” equivalent file read by all shells?


The file $HOME/.profile is used by a number of shells, including bash, sh, dash, and possibly others.

From the bash man page:

When bash is invoked as an interactive login shell, … it first reads and executes commands from the file /etc/profile, if that file exists. After reading that file, it looks for ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bash_login, and ~/.profile, in that order, and reads and executes commands from the first one that exists and is readable.

csh and tcsh explicitly don’t look at ~/.profile but those shells are kinda antiquated.

~/.profile is the right place for environment variable definitions and for non-graphical programs that you want to run when you log in (e.g. ssh-agent, screen -m). It is executed by your login shell if that is a Bourne-style shell (sh, ksh, bash). Zsh runs ~/.zprofile instead, and Csh and tcsh run ~/.login.

If you log in under an X display manager (xdm, gdm, kdm, …), whether ~/.profile is run depends how your display manager and perhaps desktop environment were configured by your distribution. If you log in under a “custom session”, that usually executes ~/.xsession.

~/.bashrc is the right place for bash-specific settings, such as aliases, functions, shell options and prompts. As the name indicates, it is specific to bash; csh has ~/.cshrc, ksh has ~/.kshrc, and zsh has <drumroll> ~/.zshrc.

See also:

  • Difference between .bashrc and .bash_profile
  • Which setup files should be used for setting up environment variables with bash?
  • Zsh not hitting ~/.profile

There is no common file, but you can make every shell read from a common file.

  1. bash reads from .bash_profile or .bashrc
  2. zsh reads from .zprofile and .zshrc
  3. ksh reads from .profile or $ENV

So here’s what I do:


# Put environment variables here, e.g.


test -f "$HOME/.env" && . "$HOME/.env"

# Put interactive shell setup here, e.g.
alias ll="ls -l"
PS1='$PWD$ '
set -o emacs


test -f ~/.shrc && source ~/.shrc

# Put any bash-specific settings here, e.g.
shopt -s extglob


# Put any zsh-specific settings for non-interactive and interactive sessions, e.g.
setopt braceexpand
setopt promptsubst
setopt shwordsplit


test -f ~/.shrc && source ~/.shrc

# Put any zsh-specific interactive settings here, e.g.
setopt ignoreeof


# Interactive sub-shells source .env, unless this is bash or zsh,
# because they already sourced .env in .bashrc or .zshrc.
if test -z "$BASH_VERSION" -a -z "$ZSH_VERSION" || test -n "$BASH_VERSION" -a ( "${BASH##*/}" = "sh" )
    test -f "$HOME"/.env && . "$HOME"/.env

# The name is confusing, but $ENV is ksh's config file for interactive sessions,
# so it's equivalent to .bashrc or .zshrc.
# Putting this here makes running an interactive ksh from any login shell work.
test -f "$HOME"/.shrc && export ENV="$HOME"/.shrc

# Put any login shell specific commands here, e.g.
stty -ixon


source ~/.bashrc
source ~/.profile


# zsh sources .zshrc automatically, only need to source .profile
source ~/.profile



If you have root access to the system, another way is to set up pam_env.

You can put

session optional pam_env.so user_envfile=.env

in the relevant /etc/pam.d file (e.g. /etc/pam.d/common-session on Debian), and then when the user logs in, PAM will read environment variables from ~/.env.

Note that pam_env basically only supports VAR=value entries.

More info:

  • pam_env

Related Solutions

Joining bash arguments into single string with spaces

[*] I believe that this does what you want. It will put all the arguments in one string, separated by spaces, with single quotes around all: str="'$*'" $* produces all the scripts arguments separated by the first character of $IFS which, by default, is a space....

AddTransient, AddScoped and AddSingleton Services Differences

TL;DR Transient objects are always different; a new instance is provided to every controller and every service. Scoped objects are the same within a request, but different across different requests. Singleton objects are the same for every object and every...

How to download package not install it with apt-get command?

Use --download-only: sudo apt-get install --download-only pppoe This will download pppoe and any dependencies you need, and place them in /var/cache/apt/archives. That way a subsequent apt-get install pppoe will be able to complete without any extra downloads....

What defines the maximum size for a command single argument?

Answers Definitely not a bug. The parameter which defines the maximum size for one argument is MAX_ARG_STRLEN. There is no documentation for this parameter other than the comments in binfmts.h: /* * These are the maximum length and maximum number of strings...

Bulk rename, change prefix

I'd say the simplest it to just use the rename command which is common on many Linux distributions. There are two common versions of this command so check its man page to find which one you have: ## rename from Perl (common in Debian systems -- Ubuntu, Mint,...

Output from ls has newlines but displays on a single line. Why?

When you pipe the output, ls acts differently. This fact is hidden away in the info documentation: If standard output is a terminal, the output is in columns (sorted vertically) and control characters are output as question marks; otherwise, the output is...

mv: Move file only if destination does not exist

mv -vn file1 file2. This command will do what you want. You can skip -v if you want. -v makes it verbose - mv will tell you that it moved file if it moves it(useful, since there is possibility that file will not be moved) -n moves only if file2 does not exist....

Is it possible to store and query JSON in SQLite?

SQLite 3.9 introduced a new extension (JSON1) that allows you to easily work with JSON data . Also, it introduced support for indexes on expressions, which (in my understanding) should allow you to define indexes on your JSON data as well. PostgreSQL has some...

Combining tail && journalctl

You could use: journalctl -u service-name -f -f, --follow Show only the most recent journal entries, and continuously print new entries as they are appended to the journal. Here I've added "service-name" to distinguish this answer from others; you substitute...

how can shellshock be exploited over SSH?

One example where this can be exploited is on servers with an authorized_keys forced command. When adding an entry to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys, you can prefix the line with command="foo" to force foo to be run any time that ssh public key is used. With this...

Why doesn’t the tilde (~) expand inside double quotes?

The reason, because inside double quotes, tilde ~ has no special meaning, it's treated as literal. POSIX defines Double-Quotes as: Enclosing characters in double-quotes ( "" ) shall preserve the literal value of all characters within the double-quotes, with the...

What is GNU Info for?

GNU Info was designed to offer documentation that was comprehensive, hyperlinked, and possible to output to multiple formats. Man pages were available, and they were great at providing printed output. However, they were designed such that each man page had a...

Set systemd service to execute after fstab mount

a CIFS network location is mounted via /etc/fstab to /mnt/ on boot-up. No, it is not. Get this right, and the rest falls into place naturally. The mount is handled by a (generated) systemd mount unit that will be named something like mnt-wibble.mount. You can...

Merge two video clips into one, placing them next to each other

To be honest, using the accepted answer resulted in a lot of dropped frames for me. However, using the hstack filter_complex produced perfectly fluid output: ffmpeg -i left.mp4 -i right.mp4 -filter_complex hstack output.mp4 ffmpeg -i input1.mp4 -i input2.mp4...

How portable are /dev/stdin, /dev/stdout and /dev/stderr?

It's been available on Linux back into its prehistory. It is not POSIX, although many actual shells (including AT&T ksh and bash) will simulate it if it's not present in the OS; note that this simulation only works at the shell level (i.e. redirection or...

How can I increase the number of inodes in an ext4 filesystem?

It seems that you have a lot more files than normal expectation. I don't know whether there is a solution to change the inode table size dynamically. I'm afraid that you need to back-up your data, and create new filesystem, and restore your data. To create new...

Why doesn’t cp have a progress bar like wget?

The tradition in unix tools is to display messages only if something goes wrong. I think this is both for design and practical reasons. The design is intended to make it obvious when something goes wrong: you get an error message, and it's not drowned in...