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Describes special files used to customize Unix operations.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Your .bashrc file: Shell configuration
3. Your .bash_login file: Login initialization
4. Your .bash_logout file: Logout actions

1. Introduction

When you use Unix or Linux systems at the New Mexico Tech Computer Center, you can customize your configuration by editing certain files in your root directory. These files control user-level configuration—that is, the appearance and function of your applications.

These files are called “hidden” or “dot” files—that is, their names start with “.”, so they are not shown by the ls command unless you use the ls -a option.

If you are unfamiliar with Unix conventions, please see our publication Summary of common Unix commands, which explains basic terms like shell and prompt.

We'll assume that your shell is bash. For a complete description of bash, see the online Bash Reference Manual.

Here are some of the more important dot files you can use to configure bash:

To create or modify your dot files, use any basic text editor. Here are some popular choices:

Choosing between vi and emacs is a matter of taste, and in most cases the author has found that people tend to stick with whichever one they learned first.