echo $PATH provides:


while /etc/environment states


I though the environment file is responsible for setting the PATH environment. I mean the file is called environment, and the only commend therein is path. What am I missing?

This is Ubuntu 18.04.1 and when I try to run pcsxr, it tells me /usr/games is not added to environment variable. This seems true from one point of view and false from another point of view. There is no problem with the desktop file, it has been validated. Also that game in question has been validated to be at /usr/games

Running this command:

$ grep --color -H 'PATH=' ~/.bashrc ~/.profile ~/.bash_profile ~/bash.login \
                    ~/.bash_aliases /etc/bash.bashrc /etc/profile \
                     /etc/profile.d/* /etc/environment 2> /dev/null

/home/neonred811/.profile:    PATH="$HOME/bin:$PATH"
/home/neonred811/.profile:    PATH="$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH"
  • 4
    It's probably getting overwritten elsewhere. Try askubuntu.com/a/706069/158442 – muru Aug 19 '18 at 8:25
  • I tried that and nothing matches, the echo $PATH, and closest match is environment, I thought to myself cursing, ok whereis $PATH, strangely this pointed to /usr/local/bin, and when I went the only file therein was browsh which is a new text browser mario style using firefox backend – Uranium Aug 19 '18 at 8:42
  • 2
    whereis $PATH makes no sense, so the rest of that is irrelevant. Also, show us the output you got from running the grep in the linked post. Also, how did you install Ubuntu? Is this a VPS or a VM or similar? – muru Aug 19 '18 at 8:47
  • This is a virtual machine in virtual box. I installed from Ubuntu Basic Server ground up, making my own respin, and this annoying problem – Uranium Aug 19 '18 at 9:01
  • 2
    Well, there's two possibilities: one as muru said, PATH is being overwritten, which is more likely, and another - /etc/environment not being sourced. Since any of config files may source other files, it's isn't guaranteed where exactly that variable is overwritten. I'd say, just add that directory into your PATH via ~/.bashrc and forget the trouble. But of course if you wanna find what actually happened, grep through everything for files being sourced, and then grep through those – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Aug 19 '18 at 9:12

I had the same problem while trying to set my JAVA_HOME environment variable (link) after installing the default-jdk apt package, also on Ubuntu 18.04.1.

Setting JAVA_HOME in /etc/environment didn't work at all, even though that file is symlinked in /usr/lib/environment.d/ as described here.

Setting it in ~/.profile did work, but was obviously not system-wide, so some tools couldn't see it and it was just a pain.

I ended up setting it using a script in /etc/profile.d/ as described here, and that finally worked.

I have no idea why /etc/environment isn't working. I've successfully used that method on Ubuntu 16.04, but no luck on 18.04. I also grepped everything in /etc/ as described in this related question and also suggested here, but couldn't get to the bottom of it.


You can grep everything to find out where /usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin is being set:

time sudo grep -rnw \
--exclude-dir={boot,dev,lib,media,mnt,proc,root,run,sys,/tmp,tmpfs,var} '/' -e \

This will take a few minutes to run so make some coffee or take out the garbage. On an NVMe SSD though it will take 45 seconds and show this:

Binary file /home/rick/.mozilla/firefox/9fu0cuql.default/places.sqlite matches
Binary file /home/rick/.mozilla/firefox/9fu0cuql.default/places.sqlite-wal matches

real    0m46.343s
user    0m13.143s
sys     0m8.853s

On my system the only place where the path is overridden like yours is by Firefox.

However my $PATH variable is always normal (for me):

$ echo $PATH
  • 1
    Just in case that fails, you could try changing the search term to PATH and/or taking /media and /mnt out of the list. Also it might be quicker to try searching just in /etc and $HOME first, then try searching from the root directory if needed. – wjandrea Nov 12 '18 at 15:07
  • @wjandrea Thank you for your insightful comment. I just revised the answer but your comment is still relevant for others. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Nov 12 '18 at 19:17

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