I'm running RHEL5. I added simple alias command into ~/.bashrc. When I start a new terminal, nothing happens but source ~/.bashrc works so I know the syntax is correct. I also modified/source-tested ~/.bash_profile but it's not executed on terminal startup either. ~/.bash_login and ~/.profile don't exist on my system.

here is my ~/.bashrc

# .bashrc

# Source global definitions if [ -f /etc/bashrc ]; then
        . /etc/bashrc fi

# User specific aliases and functions
alias hi=hello

And my ~/.bash_profile

# .bash_profile

# Get the aliases and functions
if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]; then
        . ~/.bashrc

# User specific environment and startup programs


export PATH
  • How do you start a new terminal? If you start it by clicking onto an icon this should be okay as this will start a non-login shell. Are you sure you are inside a bash shell? Type echo $SHELL, the system's response should be /bin/bash. On linuxintro.org/wiki/Boot_process#user_starts_a_shell I describe that the process sourcing .bashrc is login. Can you just call bash and see if .bashrc is being executed? Sep 12, 2014 at 11:15
  • 1
    That should be .bash_profile, not .bash_profiles. Was that a typo?
    – terdon
    Sep 12, 2014 at 12:19
  • Related: unix.stackexchange.com/questions/88106/…
    – AntonioK
    Sep 12, 2014 at 13:56
  • @terdon Yes it's a typo, fixed.
    – user49888
    Sep 12, 2014 at 17:02
  • Thanks. Now, please confirm that 1) you're running bash and not another shell and 2) your terminal is not configured to start login shells. If neither .bashrc nor .bash_profile is being sourced, you're likely not running bash at all.
    – terdon
    Sep 12, 2014 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


~/.bashrc is only executed for non-login shells, check your terminal settings:
Edit -> Profile Preferences -> Title and Command -> "Run command as a login shell

The usual ~/.profile loads ~/.bashrc if it is available, if - assuming $BASH_VERSION is present in your environment.

Keep in mind though that ~/.profile is ignored if if there's ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bash_login in your home and that, as a result of it being ignored, ~/.bashrc isn't sourced, too.

  • You're probably right about the OP starting login shells but note that the "usual" .profile does not source .bashrc. It does on some systems but it is not the case everywhere and is not true on the SuSe system I just checked. Your last line is wrong, .profile itself is ignored if either .bash_profile or .bash_login exist, this has nothing to do with whether or not .bashrc is read by .profile.
    – terdon
    Sep 12, 2014 at 12:15
  • @terdon Yes, that's what I meant - I'll try to reprhase it in an edit.
    – Jan
    Sep 12, 2014 at 12:55
  • In recent-ish Debian default files, .profile checks if it's running Bash, and if so, loads .bashrc. In the glacial terms of Debian development, this is a relatively recent arrangement, and certainly not generalizable to other distributions. Perhaps Red Hat had this for a longer time.
    – tripleee
    Jan 18, 2018 at 6:07

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