PATH, was: Re: [OS X TeX] OT: Autotrace

Martin Costabel costabel at
Mon Mar 19 09:20:38 CET 2007

Gerben Wierda wrote:
> On Mar 18, 2007, at 19:53 , Roussanka Loukanova wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I have a marginally related question about setting up the PATH 
>> variable for accessing scripts defined by the user. Which is the good 
>> way to add the user's ~/bin directory to the search path: at its 
>> beginning or end, e.g. by adding a resepctive line in .bashrc
>> (1) export PATH=$HOME/bin:$PATH
>> (2) export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin
> I prefer 2. It is safer because you cannot (accidentally, or 
> maliciously) override system stuff. Name clashs are also esier to 
> resolve as you can change the name of your personal script while it is 
> not advisable to change the names of system stuff.

There are times when you want or need to override system stuff.

There is a reason why the order of precedence usually is:
User's personal stuff, then systemwide user-installed stuff, then system 

This is true in the NextStep parts of MacOSX:
~/Library takes precedence over /Library which takes precedence over 

And it is true in the traditional Unix parts of MacOSX:
/usr/local/lib takes precedence over /usr/lib, and /usr/local/bin comes 
before /usr/bin. Traditionally and logically, ~/bin comes before 
/usr/local/bin. Have a look at the file /usr/share/tcsh/examples/login 
which shows a traditional tcsh setup.

It is true that there may be security concerns, but they are minimal in 
comparison with the problems that /usr/local/bin often causes. Whereas 
any odd 3rd-party software that you download, install and then forget 
places stuff into /usr/local/bin, usually nobody else than the user puts 
things into ~/bin.


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