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How To Fix “Not a Valid Identifier” Error in Ubuntu After Setting Environment Variables

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In the world of Ubuntu, setting environment variables is a common task. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter errors during this process. One such error is the “Not a valid identifier” error. This article will guide you through the steps to fix this error and ensure your environment variables are set correctly.

Quick Answer

To fix the "Not a valid identifier" error in Ubuntu after setting environment variables, you need to correct the syntax and ensure there are no spaces around the = sign when assigning a value to a variable in your .bashrc file. Additionally, verify that the paths assigned to the variables are correct and enclose any paths containing spaces in quotes. Finally, save the changes to the .bashrc file and apply them by either opening a new terminal or running the source ~/.bashrc command.

Understanding the Error

Before we delve into the solution, it’s important to understand what the “Not a valid identifier” error means. This error typically occurs when you’re trying to set an environment variable in your .bashrc file and the syntax is incorrect. The most common reasons for this error are:

  • Spaces around the = sign when assigning a value to a variable.
  • Incorrect paths assigned to the variables.
  • Paths containing spaces not enclosed in quotes.

Accessing the .bashrc File

The first step in resolving this error is to access your .bashrc file. This is where your environment variables are set. You can access this file using a text editor. The nano command is a simple and user-friendly text editor you can use. Run the following command to open your .bashrc file:

nano ~/.bashrc

In this command, nano is the text editor, and ~/.bashrc is the path to the .bashrc file.

Correcting the Syntax

Once you’ve opened the .bashrc file, locate the lines where you’re setting the environment variables. Here, you need to ensure that the syntax is correct.

Removing Spaces

Ensure that there are no spaces before or after the = sign when assigning a value to a variable. For instance, instead of:

export VARIABLE = value

It should be:

export VARIABLE=value

Verifying Paths

Next, verify that the paths you’re assigning to the variables are correct. Double-check the paths and ensure they exist on your system.

Enclosing Paths

If any of the paths contain spaces, make sure to enclose them in quotes. For example:

export VARIABLE="/path/with spaces"

Saving Changes and Applying Them

After making the necessary corrections, save the changes to the .bashrc file and exit the text editor. In nano, you can do this by pressing Ctrl + X, then Y to confirm saving changes, and finally Enter to exit.

To apply the changes, you can either open a new terminal or run the following command:

source ~/.bashrc

The source command reads and executes commands from the file specified as its argument, in this case, the .bashrc file.


By following these steps, you should be able to resolve the “Not a valid identifier” error in Ubuntu after setting environment variables. Remember, the key is to ensure correct syntax and paths when setting these variables. If you need further assistance, the Ubuntu community is always ready to help. Happy coding!

How do I access the `.bashrc` file in Ubuntu?

To access the .bashrc file in Ubuntu, you can use the nano command. Open a terminal and run the command nano ~/.bashrc. This will open the .bashrc file in the nano text editor.

What is the purpose of the `.bashrc` file?

The .bashrc file is a script that is run whenever a new interactive shell is started in Ubuntu. It is used to set up the environment for the shell, including defining environment variables, setting aliases, and running other shell scripts.

How can I save changes made in the `nano` text editor?

To save changes made in the nano text editor, press Ctrl + X to exit the editor. You will be prompted to save the changes. Press Y to confirm saving the changes, and then press Enter to exit the editor.

How can I apply the changes made in the `.bashrc` file?

After making changes in the .bashrc file, you can either open a new terminal for the changes to take effect, or you can run the command source ~/.bashrc in the current terminal. The source command reads and executes the commands from the .bashrc file, applying the changes immediately.

Can I set environment variables with spaces in their paths?

Yes, you can set environment variables with spaces in their paths. However, it is important to enclose the paths in quotes to ensure they are interpreted correctly. For example, you can set an environment variable like this: export VARIABLE="/path/with spaces".

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