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Is there any long-form, if at all? Or is it just a tradition from the 80's?

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Similar question at unix.stackexchange: What does “rc” in .bashrc stand for? – Sid Jan 27 '11 at 11:10
Similar question on Super User: What does the 'rc' in .bashrc, etc. mean? – Gilles Dec 6 '13 at 12:34
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I've heard

  • run commands
  • resource control
  • run control
  • runtime configuration

Personally, I'd go with run control, because ESR says so.

His footnote says:

 The ‘rc’ suffix goes back to Unix's grandparent, CTSS.
 It had a command-script feature called "runcom". Early
 Unixes used ‘rc’ for the name of the operating system's
 boot script, as a tribute to CTSS runcom.

Wikipedia chooses "run commands" as the default long-form, but admits that context should determine word choice.

 While not historically precise, rc may also be pronou-
 nced as "run control", because an rc file controls how
 a program runs. For instance, the editor Vim looks for
 and reads the contents of the .vimrc file to determine
 its initial configuration. The most sensible pronunci-
 ation depends on the function of the file: to start
 something up, or to control how something starts up.

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ESR’s »runcom«, however, does not suggest »run control«, unless there is a rule for transoforming n to m that I don’t know about. – MPi Jan 27 '11 at 8:19

According to this source -- -- it means "run commands"

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See also here… – Joril Jan 27 '11 at 7:56

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