Environment variables

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# 1  
Environment variables

why are all environment variables represented in a fixed format regardless of the shell you use?
like $HOME $PATH etc
# 2  
Well, in UNIX and shell, variable case is relevant, $HOME is not $home or $Home or $hOME, and some are very old choices, old like COBOL 68, before computers could afford lower case, so upper case is traditional for all env variables used by O/S or compiled code and other shared applications.

In your own private shell scripts, feel free to use lower case for your own data, without fear that you are accidentally turning on the $GO_AWAY_FOREVER option.

I can still hear those mainframers at AT&T, when I suggested encoding a flag byte with lower case for additional situations, mnemonicly, growling "You UNIX guys and your lower case!" Smilie
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# 3  
That, and shells are (mostly) supposed to be compatible with each other to a limited extent. bourne shell, korn shell, whatever odd old shell solaris uses, csh, and even windows CMD all have a PATH.

It can hardly be changed now in any case... It's so deep into tradition it's even made it into library calls. The execvp() and execlp library calls act in a shell-like manner, checking PATH for where to look for executables.

Last edited by Corona688; 10-19-2010 at 02:57 PM..
# 4  
I seem to recall csh was semi-case-insensitive, another reason to stay away.

'PATH' is hard coded into exec(), the library path variable whatever it is on the brand in the synamic linker, MANPATH into man, and '$PWD' changes no matter how you change the working directory, so the environment has many frozen variables. I checked my local CScope web utility. Lots of include files mention PATH, but none has "PATH" -- maybe in the kernel C?

                                                                             /usr/include/limits.h  <unknown>     71  #  define _POSIX_PATH_MAX	255 	/* The number of bytes in a pathname */
                                                                             /usr/include/limits.h  <unknown>    284  #    define PATH_MAX   	1023	/* max number of characters in a pathname (not
                                                                          /usr/include/sys/param.h  <unknown>    388  * MAXPATHLEN defines the longest permissable path length
                                                                          /usr/include/sys/param.h  <unknown>    398  #define MAXPATHLEN	1024
                                                                 /usr/include/.unsupp/sys/_errno.h  <unknown>     22  #  define EPATHREMOTE		133	/* Pathname is remote */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/unistd.h  <unknown>    712  #  define _PC_PATH_MAX		4  /* PATH_MAX: Max # of bytes in a pathname */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/unistd.h  <unknown>    800  #  define _CS_PATH	200	/* Search path that finds all POSIX.2 utils */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/unistd.h  <unknown>    873  #  define GF_PATH	"/etc/group"	/* Path name of the "group" file */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/unistd.h  <unknown>    874  #  define PF_PATH	"/etc/passwd"	/* Path name of the "passwd" file */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/unistd.h  <unknown>    875  #  define IN_PATH	"/usr/include"	/* Path name for <...> files */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/unistd.h  <unknown>    880  #  define CS_PATH	  \
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/ptrace.h  <unknown>     79  #define	PT_GET_PROCESS_PATHNAME	23 /* Get Pathname for exec'd file */
                                                                         /usr/include/sys/ptrace.h  <unknown>     81  #define IS_PTRACE_REQ(i)   ((i) >= PT_SETTRC && (i) <= PT_GET_PROCESS_PATHNAME)
                                                                   /usr/include/sys/scall_define.h  <unknown>    323  #define	SYS_PATHCONF	230
                                                                   /usr/include/sys/scall_define.h  <unknown>    325  #define	SYS_FPATHCONF	231
                                                                   /usr/include/sys/scall_define.h  <unknown>    751  #define	SYS_SENDPATH	480
                                                                   /usr/include/sys/scall_define.h  <unknown>    755  #define	SYS_SENDPATH64	482
                                                                   /usr/include/sys/scall_define.h  <unknown>    761  #define	SYS_MODPATH	485
                                                                      /usr/include/sys/semglobal.h  <unknown>    231  * DLM_MPATH_LOCK_ORDER		mod_mpath_lock: rw-sleep
                                                                      /usr/include/sys/semglobal.h  <unknown>    241  #define DLM_MPATH_LOCK_ORDER	DLM_TOP_LOCK_ORDER - 20

# 5  
why are all environment variables represented in a fixed format regardless of the shell you use?
like $HOME $PATH etc
This is not strictly true.
Those environment variables are set by the program "login". See "man login". The program "login" executes before Shell starts. However not every Shell starts from "login".
It is quite possible to start a Shell without anything setting $HOME $PATH etc..
There are also differences in "csh".
# 6  
Originally Posted by methyl
This is not strictly true.
Those environment variables are set by the program "login". See "man login". The program "login" executes before Shell starts. However not every Shell starts from "login".
It is quite possible to start a Shell without anything setting $HOME $PATH etc..
There are also differences in "csh".
The when you run in other milieu, such as "rsh/ssh/ssh2 host command", the environment may be even less. That is where 'set' is so nice: try it and see. Your cron may vary.

Especially if you write commands for set-uid or set-groupid, the environment is removed and shell scripts generally need not apply, just C and the like compiled with -R for trustworthy, hard-wired library search path to foil hackers.
# 7  
I don't recall any issues with typing or printing or punching lower case Algol 68 programs on a teletype.
This was not a constraint in the standardisation of high-level languages such as Cobol. It was just not on the agenda of the 1968 committee.

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