path mangling

wednesday, 16 december 2015

user scripts are commonly dropped into the user $HOME/bin directory. Add this directory to the PATH environment variable with

export PATH=$HOME/bin:$PATH

in your shell script’s initialization file and all the user scripts and applications placed there can be located and executed.

All you have to do when adding scripts to the bin directory is make sure the filenames are unique. Sometimes this can require prefixing otherwise simple descriptive script names where similar functionality exists for multiple environments – both to create unique filenames and to group families of scripts together.

While the system /usr/bin directory commonly contains 1000’s of program names, having even a 100 user scripts can feel unorganized when placed in the single $HOME/bin directory – if you are like me and often revisit your coding.

Having a plethora of custom scripts, and wishing to better organize them for management and maintenance purposes, and because sometimes I simply forget what tools I have written, I created a directory hierarchy for the scripts..

/home /bin /functions /conky /demo /dmenu /.config /.history /file /hardware /log /mail /network /office /package /sysadmin

Note: The dmenu (folder) scripts are launched by a dmenu wrapper script.


the PATH environment variable is easily set at user login time by a path shell script in the /etc/profile.d directory..

[ $USER = root ] && exit if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then PATH=$(echo $PATH | sed “s|$HOME/bin:||”) for i in $(find -L $HOME/bin -type d | grep -v ‘/.’ | sort -r) do PATH=”${i}:$PATH” done fi

Note: Dot (.) directories are omitted from the PATH.


tiling window managers are commonly customized with additional scripts – stacking manangers less so with custom scripting. By convention, these window manager specific scripts commonly reside in the default configuration directory of the window manager.

This directory separation allows similar functions between window managers to have the same shell script name.

A simple function in the .xinitrc X11 startup file, inserts the path for the specific window manager to the PATH when called with the window manager configuration directory..

setpath() { export PATH=$(echo $@:$(echo $PATH | sed “s|$@:||g”)) }

taking care not to duplicate the PATH reference if the X11 session is restarted more than once.

For herbstluftwm..

setpath $HOME/.config/herbstluftwm

is invoked prior to launching the window manager.

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