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I have a shell script. I want to configure my script to run automatically during startup. I know how to do this from GUI. But I wanted to do this from terminal. How can I do this?

On a primary research I found that the file needs to be moved to /etc/int.d/ directory. But this operation needs sudo permission. I wanted to do this without super user permissions.

I also found that there are files under ~/.config/autostart/ which are having some settings regarding the startup applications. But I don't know how to edit them to achieve this.

Can someone tell me the exact procedure to achieve this?

marked as duplicate by Anwar, Eric Carvalho, David Foerster, waltinator, Elder Geek Nov 9 '16 at 16:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Do you need to have it run on user level or globally? Also: you could create a launcher in ~/.config/autostart from command line, but it would take... a minor script :). Would that be ok? – Jacob Vlijm Mar 18 '15 at 9:19
  • User level shall do. I am also trying to write a script. But unaware of the files which are needed to be edited. :) – Anonymous Platypus Mar 18 '15 at 9:21

How to set up a startup launcher from command line

Like you mention in your question, commands can be run on log in by placing a launcher in ~/.config/autostart Since the launcher is only used to startup a script, you only need the "basic" desktop entry keywords in the created .desktop files: the keywords / lines you'd need at least:

[Desktop Entry]

The (optional) line X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true will be added automatically if you enable/disable the autostart function of the launcher (it is set to X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true by default)

More on required fields, you can find here.

Example script

To create such a launcher from the command line, you would need a small script that would take the name of the starter and the command to run as an argument. An example of such a script below.

If I run it with the command:

python3 '/path/to/script' 'Test' 'gedit'

It creates a startup launcher, running gedit when I login.
The launcher is also visible in Dash > Startup Applications:

enter image description here

The script

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import os
import sys
home = os.environ["HOME"]

name = sys.argv[1]; command = sys.argv[2]

launcher = ["[Desktop Entry]", "Name=", "Exec=", "Type=Application", "X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true"]
dr = home+"/.config/autostart/"
if not os.path.exists(dr):
file = dr+name.lower()+".desktop"

if not os.path.exists(file):
    with open(file, "wt") as out:     
        for l in launcher:
            l = l+name if l == "Name=" else l
            l = l+command if l == "Exec=" else l
    print("file exists, choose another name")

Paste it into an empty file, save it as set_startupscript.py, run it by the command:

python3 /path/to/set_startupscript.py '<name>' '<command>'

What it does

  • It creates a basic launcher (you don't need more, running a script) in ~/.config/autostart, taking the name and command as arguments.
  • If a launcher with the name already exists in ~/.config/autostart, it prints a message:

    file exists, choose another name
  • @AnonymousPlatypus aaarrgh, forgot the import sys line. fixed. – Jacob Vlijm Mar 18 '15 at 9:52
  • @Jacob What should you put in the place of <name> and <command>? – TellMeWhy Jun 25 '15 at 13:47
  • 1
    @DevRobot <name> is the name of your Startup Application, as it appears in the list of Dash > Startup Applications. You can give it any name you like. The <command> is the command you'd like to run. If it is simply a bash script, use: '/bin/bash /path/to/script.sh', (including quotes) if it is a complicated command, use /bin/bash -c "<complicated_command>". What is the command you'd like to run on startup? – Jacob Vlijm Jun 25 '15 at 13:53
  • @Jacob, it's a bash script containing randr settings – TellMeWhy Jun 25 '15 at 13:58
  • @DevRobot then the first option will do (don't forget the quotes :) ) – Jacob Vlijm Jun 25 '15 at 14:00

I found an answer

cd to ~/.config/autostart/. If you don'y have a folder named autostart then create one with that name using mkdir autostart.

Now add the following file with the name yourScript.sh.desktop

[Desktop Entry]


  • To run a script on startup, there are more fields here than needed :) – Jacob Vlijm Mar 18 '15 at 9:49
  • Could you please tell me about the additional fields? – Anonymous Platypus Mar 18 '15 at 9:55
  • 2
    only a few of these fields are really required, if you look at this site: standards.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/latest/… in column REQ, you can see if you really need the keyword. I would only use additional keywords if you have a reason to. Nodisplay, Hidden, Comment etc. play no role when you don't run launchers from Dash. – Jacob Vlijm Mar 18 '15 at 9:59
  • 1
    I have checked the file. As you said, according to that only Type,EXEC and X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled tags would be required. Thanks for pointing this out. :) – Anonymous Platypus Mar 18 '15 at 10:08
  • 2
    You are right! If the line is not in the .desktop file, the default value is true, if you disable it from Dash > Startup Applications, the line is added automatically. I edited it into the script. – Jacob Vlijm Mar 19 '15 at 5:22

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