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

Solutons:


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:

~/.env

# Put environment variables here, e.g.
PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin

~/.shrc

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

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

~/.bashrc

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

# Put any bash-specific settings here, e.g.
HISTFILE=~/.bash_history
shopt -s extglob
IGNOREEOF=yes

~/.zshenv

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

~/.zshrc

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

# Put any zsh-specific interactive settings here, e.g.
HISTFILE=~/.zsh_history
setopt ignoreeof

~/.profile

# 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" )
then
    test -f "$HOME"/.env && . "$HOME"/.env
fi

# 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.
ssh-add
stty -ixon

~/.bash_profile

source ~/.bashrc
source ~/.profile

~/.zlogin

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

~/.zprofile

(empty)

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

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