12 Most Commonly Used Bash Shell Variables

Bash Shell Variables Techhyme

In the Linux shell environment, variables play a vital role in controlling and customizing the behavior of the system. Shell variables are placeholders that store information such as system configurations, user settings, and command preferences. Understanding and utilizing these variables can significantly enhance your experience as a Linux user.

In this article, we will explore some commonly used shell variables and their significance in the Linux ecosystem.


The “BASH_VERSION” variable holds the current instance of the Bash (Bourne Again SHell) version running on the system. Bash is one of the most widely used shells in Linux, known for its powerful features and scripting capabilities.


The “HOST_NAME” variable stores the name of the computer or host system. This variable allows users and scripts to identify the system by its unique name.


The “CDPATH” variable defines a search path for the “cd” command. When you use “cd” to change directories, the shell looks for the specified directory in the locations defined in “CDPATH” if the directory is not found in the current working directory.


The “HISTFILE” variable determines the file in which the command history is saved. When you enter commands in the shell, they are recorded in the history file, allowing you to access and repeat previous commands.


The “HISTFILESIZE” variable sets the maximum number of lines that can be stored in the history file. By limiting the history size, you can control the amount of command history retained, which is useful for keeping it manageable.


The “HOME” variable holds the home directory of the current user. It points to the directory where the user’s personal files and configurations are stored.

7. IFS

The “IFS” variable stands for Internal Field Separator. It determines the character or characters that the shell uses to split words and lines into fields. The default value is space, tab, and newline, but you can modify it to suit your needs.


The “LANG” variable is used to determine the locale category for the user’s environment. It sets the language and cultural preferences for various system utilities and programs.


The “PATH” variable is one of the most crucial variables in Linux. It defines a search path for executable files, allowing you to run commands from any location in the shell. Directories listed in the “PATH” variable are searched in order when you enter a command.

10. TERM

The “TERM” variable specifies the type of login terminal being used. It helps applications and terminal emulators to adjust their behavior based on the terminal type.


The “SHELL” variable holds the path to the user’s login shell. It identifies the default shell for the user’s command-line interactions.


The “DISPLAY” variable sets the display name for X Window System, which is the graphical windowing system used in Linux. It informs X applications where to render their graphical output.

By leveraging these commonly used shell variables, Linux users can customize their environment, automate tasks with scripts, and gain more control over their system. The versatility and power of shell variables make them indispensable tools for both casual users and experienced system administrators in the Linux ecosystem.

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