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How To Reload Bash’s .profile Without Logging Out

Ubuntu 21

In this article, we will explore how to reload Bash’s .profile without logging out. This is a common requirement for system administrators and developers who frequently update their shell environment and do not want to disrupt their current session.

Quick Answer

To reload Bash’s .profile without logging out, you can use the source command or the . command followed by the path to the .profile file. This allows you to quickly apply changes made to your .profile file in the current terminal session. However, please note that these changes will only be effective in the current session and will not be visible in the entire graphical environment.

Understanding the .profile File

The .profile file is a startup script that gets executed whenever a Bash login shell is started. This file resides in your home directory and is used to set up the shell environment, which includes setting environment variables, defining aliases, and more.

However, changes made to the .profile file do not take effect immediately. Typically, you would need to log out and log back in for the changes to be applied. But what if you want to apply the changes without logging out? This is where the source or . command comes in.

The Source Command

The source command is a shell built-in command which is used to read and execute commands from a file in the current shell environment. The syntax for the source command is as follows:

source filename

In our case, to reload the .profile file, we would use:

source ~/.profile

The ~ symbol is a shortcut for the home directory, and /.profile is the path to the .profile file.

The Dot Command

Alternatively, you can use the . command, which is synonymous with source. The syntax is:

. filename

So to reload the .profile file, you would use:

. ~/.profile

Caveats

While the source and . commands are handy for quickly applying changes made to the .profile file, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The changes will only be effective in the current terminal session. If you want the changes to be visible in the entire graphical environment, you will need to restart the session.
  • If you remove a command or function from the .profile file and then reload it using source or ., the change will not take effect. The removed command or function will still be available. To completely remove it, you will need to restart the session by logging out and back in again.

Conclusion

Reloading the .profile file in Bash without logging out is as simple as running a single command. Whether you prefer source or ., both will allow you to quickly apply changes made to your .profile file in the current terminal session. Just remember that these changes will not be visible in the entire graphical environment, and removed commands or functions will still be available until you restart the session.

Can I use the `source` or `.` command to reload other files besides `.profile`?

Yes, you can use the source or . command to reload any file that contains valid shell commands. Simply replace .profile in the command with the path to the file you want to reload.

Will using the `source` or `.` command affect other users on the system?

No, using the source or . command to reload the .profile file only affects the current user’s shell environment. It does not impact other users on the system.

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