I've got a script, named s, on a remote server that activates a virtual environment like this:

source venv/bin/activate

When SSH-ed into the server, I'm able to activate the environment by

. s

And I SSH into the server as following:

ssh -t user@host "cd /path/to/dir ; /bin/bash"

In addition to changing the working directory to /path/to/dir it would be nice if I could activate the environment right away each time I log into the server. But no matter where I put . s into the the SSH command, using -c for /bin/bash or not, the session always ends immediately.

  • is adding it to the user's .bashrc an option or should the souring only occur when sshing into the machine?
    – FelixJN
    Aug 13, 2015 at 12:04
  • I'm afraid it's the latter Aug 13, 2015 at 12:05
  • 1
    could you use /bin/bash --rcfile all.rc in the ssh command and in all.rc define both the standard bashrc and your special s sourcing?
    – FelixJN
    Aug 13, 2015 at 12:13
  • Maybe I could. Haven't done such thing before. Aug 13, 2015 at 12:16
  • works for my tests at least.
    – FelixJN
    Aug 13, 2015 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


Use a new source file e.g. /home/user/.rcforssh

 #rc for ssh
 . /home/user/.bashrc
 . /home/user/venv/bin/activate  #or whichever location

and log in with

ssh -t user@host "cd /path/to/dir ; /bin/bash --rcfile /home/user/.rcforssh"

Side note: source is not POSIX, while . is.

UPDATE following discussion specifying OP's needs:

For creating and removing the the modified source file rcforssh on the fly, on can use:

ssh -t user@host "cd /path/to/dir ; echo '. ~/.bashrc ; . s ; rm rcforssh' > rcforssh ; /bin/bash --rcfile rcforssh"

i.e. creating the source file with an echo command and adding the removal in said file.

  • Can I load the bashrc file from the standard input on the fly so that it all becomes a single command line? Aug 13, 2015 at 12:30
  • well, you could add the cd /path/to/dir in the .rcforssh source file. If that is what you meant? So you'll only end up with the bash command in the ssh
    – FelixJN
    Aug 13, 2015 at 12:36
  • I meant something potentially using echo and piping Aug 13, 2015 at 12:38
  • Well, guess there is no way to make it one line with this approach Aug 13, 2015 at 12:41
  • like in these examples (especially point 4)?
    – FelixJN
    Aug 13, 2015 at 12:44

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