I am looking for a way to customize Ash sessions with my own sets of aliases and whatnots. What is the Ash equivalent of Bash's bashrc files?

3 Answers 3


Ash first reads the following files (if they exist):

  • System: /etc/profile
  • User: ~/.profile
  • 13
    Provided that it is run as the login shell, which isn't the default (e.g. in Alpine Linux / Docker) Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 10:29
  • 3
    @JakubHolý did you find a way to run profile script for non-login shell? Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 13:20
  • 1
    @DavidLukac - See my other Answer here for non-login shells.
    – spechter
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 0:21
  • What do you mean by "first" reads these files? Will it do something else afterwards? Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 2:47
  • 2
    Those are equivalent of .profile, the question is about .bashrc.
    – Scorpion
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 20:51

A non-login 'ash' or 'dash'-based shell may also 'source' a file if that file's full path is contained in the environment variable ENV (or perhaps SHINIT).

So if you set that somehow (Maybe in your ~/.profile, or some other 'overarching' environment control), then any future forked shells will run that script. Very handy for non-login cases.

Example: In your .profile, something like:

ENV=$HOME/.ashrc; export ENV
. $ENV

Or if you like being explicit:

ENV=/home/kwest/.ashrc; export ENV
# File in 'ENV' will be sourced for future shells. Also source it for this login shell:
. $ENV

Note that you should set ENV to a full explicit path, as the above will do. Don't use '~'.

It's hard to find explicit documentation on this for ash/dash, but it is confirmed to work on busybox-w32 (running on Windows). In fact it's hard to find good documentation on the featureset of ash at all.

UPDATE: There are a range of ash variants in the wild. 'ENV' may not work with all of them. There is some info on variants here: https://www.in-ulm.de/~mascheck/various/ash/

There is a suggestion in there that some ash variants may use 'SHINIT' in place of ENV.

  • 3
    Not working for me under Alpine 3.7.
    – knite
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 22:50
  • 2
    @knite Busybox's Ash (used by Alpine) uses ENV. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 0:34
  • 1
    Has the ENV or SHINIT variable just to be set or to be set to a specific value? I am trying to force docker to read .profile in /root/.profile without explicitly starting with /bin/sh -l
    – Leon
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 21:12
  • @Leon - ENV (or maybe SHINIT) needs to contain the full path of the file to load/source. But this is only for startup of ‘ash’ shell variants - not the common sh or bash shells.
    – spechter
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 5:44
  • Can you provide an example of what should be set in ENV? Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 12:16

Some year after the question on alipline 3.17 I figured out a solution (may not be the best, any comment welcome).

  • Edit as root /etc/profile to add at the end just before the unset script this line:
    . $HOME/.profile
  • Then create a .profile in your home dir as described before like this:
    ENV=$HOME/.ashrc; export ENV
    . $ENV

Then you can create a .ashrc in your home dir to set you aliases or other stuff.

  • I would recommend this to avoid the file missing error if the user doesn't create the file .ashrc .... export ENV=$HOME/.ashrc ; [[ -f $ENV ]] && source $ENV Commented Jun 15 at 8:03

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