ENV(P) POSIX Programmer's Manual ENV(P)
env - set the environment for command invocation
env [-i][name=value]... [utility [argument...]]
The env utility shall obtain the current environment, modify it according to its argu-
ments, then invoke the utility named by the utility operand with the modified environment.
Optional arguments shall be passed to utility.
If no utility operand is specified, the resulting environment shall be written to the
standard output, with one name= value pair per line.
The env utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Sec-
tion 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines.
The following options shall be supported:
-i Invoke utility with exactly the environment specified by the arguments; the inher-
ited environment shall be ignored completely.
The following operands shall be supported:
Arguments of the form name= value shall modify the execution environment, and shall
be placed into the inherited environment before the utility is invoked.
The name of the utility to be invoked. If the utility operand names any of the spe-
cial built-in utilities in Special Built-In Utilities , the results are undefined.
A string to pass as an argument for the invoked utility.
The following environment variables shall affect the execution of env:
LANG Provide a default value for the internationalization variables that are unset or
null. (See the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Section 8.2, Inter-
nationalization Variables for the precedence of internationalization variables used
to determine the values of locale categories.)
LC_ALL If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of all the other interna-
Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of bytes of text data as
characters (for example, single-byte as opposed to multi-byte characters in argu-
Determine the locale that should be used to affect the format and contents of diag-
nostic messages written to standard error.
Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing of LC_MESSAGES .
PATH Determine the location of the utility, as described in the Base Definitions volume
of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Chapter 8, Environment Variables. If PATH is specified as
a name= value operand to env, the value given shall be used in the search for util-
If no utility operand is specified, each name= value pair in the resulting environment
shall be written in the form:
"%s=%s\n", <name>, <value>
If the utility operand is specified, the env utility shall not write to standard output.
The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.
If utility is invoked, the exit status of env shall be the exit status of utility; other-
wise, the env utility shall exit with one of the following values:
0 The env utility completed successfully.
1-125 An error occurred in the env utility.
126 The utility specified by utility was found but could not be invoked.
127 The utility specified by utility could not be found.
CONSEQUENCES OF ERRORS
The following sections are informative.
The command, env, nice, nohup, time, and xargs utilities have been specified to use exit
code 127 if an error occurs so that applications can distinguish "failure to find a util-
ity" from "invoked utility exited with an error indication". The value 127 was chosen
because it is not commonly used for other meanings; most utilities use small values for
"normal error conditions" and the values above 128 can be confused with termination due to
receipt of a signal. The value 126 was chosen in a similar manner to indicate that the
utility could be found, but not invoked. Some scripts produce meaningful error messages
differentiating the 126 and 127 cases. The distinction between exit codes 126 and 127 is
based on KornShell practice that uses 127 when all attempts to exec the utility fail with
[ENOENT], and uses 126 when any attempt to exec the utility fails for any other reason.
Historical implementations of the env utility use the execvp() or execlp() functions
defined in the System Interfaces volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 to invoke the specified
utility; this provides better performance and keeps users from having to escape characters
with special meaning to the shell. Therefore, shell functions, special built-ins, and
built-ins that are only provided by the shell are not found.
The following command:
env -i PATH=/mybin mygrep xyz myfile
invokes the command mygrep with a new PATH value as the only entry in its environment. In
this case, PATH is used to locate mygrep, which then must reside in /mybin.
As with all other utilities that invoke other utilities, this volume of
IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 only specifies what env does with standard input, standard output,
standard error, input files, and output files. If a utility is executed, it is not con-
strained by the specification of input and output by env.
The -i option was added to allow the functionality of the withdrawn - option in a manner
compatible with the Utility Syntax Guidelines.
Some have suggested that env is redundant since the same effect is achieved by:
name=value ... utility [ argument ... ]
The example is equivalent to env when an environment variable is being added to the envi-
ronment of the command, but not when the environment is being set to the given value. The
env utility also writes out the current environment if invoked without arguments. There is
sufficient functionality beyond what the example provides to justify inclusion of env.
Parameters and Variables , Special Built-In Utilities
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std
1003.1, 2003 Edition, Standard for Information Technology -- Portable Operating System
Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6, Copyright (C) 2001-2003 by
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and The Open Group
Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard is the referee document. The orig-
inal Standard can be obtained online at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .
IEEE/The Open Group 2003 ENV(P)