Consider this:

$ cd /tmp
$ echo "echo YES" >> prog/myprog
$ chmod +x prog/myprog
$ prog/myprog
$ myprog
myprog: command not found

I can temporarily modify PATH to call myprog by name like this:

$ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) myprog

... however I cannot chain commands with this approach:

$ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) myprog && myprog
myprog: command not found

... apparently the modified PATH apparently didn't propagate to the second invocation.

I'm aware I could do this:

$ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) bash -c "myprog && myprog"

... but then I have to invoke an extra bash process - and even worse, I have to quote.

Is there any way to append to PATH temporarily for chained commands in a one-liner, without having to invoke extra bash and quote? Tried backticks, they don't work:

$ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) `myprog && myprog`
myprog: command not found
  • 1
    Just in case, you still can call myprog by specifying the (relative in your case) path explicitly: prog/myprog. That saves you need to worry about PATH modifications.
    – Tagwint
    Mar 26, 2016 at 16:22

3 Answers 3


How about using a subshell:

$ (PATH="$PATH:$(readlink -f prog)"; myprog && myprog)
  • Oh, that's quite neat, @cuonglm - thanks!
    – sdaau
    Mar 26, 2016 at 16:02
  • 1
    please note that ( commands ) is conceptually equal to bash -c ' commands ' so you are activating extra bash process. (that I find usually acceptable)
    – Manwe
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:03

That will depend on what you consider "temporary". For example, you could just run:

$ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) 

And then you would be able to run myprog to your heart's content for the rest of that shell session. The changes you made to PATH would disappear as soon as you logged out. You could just open a new terminal—if working graphically, or switch to a different tty, if not—or run a new session:

$ bash
$ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) 
## Do your stuff here

$ exit

Another way of running the same thing is:

PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) bash

That will start a new bash session with the PATH variable changed. As soon as you're done, run exit to return to the parent.

  • Thanks for that @terdon - by temporary I meant for the duration of the (commands in the) one-liner only
    – sdaau
    Mar 26, 2016 at 16:07

If you want that the path be changed only for the duration of the command.
Then, you need to set it for every time the command is called.
That's a perfect job for an alias:

alias myprog='PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) myprog'

Use as:

$ myprog && myprog

Of course, a function with the same name will not work:

$ myprog(){ PATH="$PATH":$(readlink -f prog) myprog; }  ### DO NOT USE !!

I am just wondering if you really need any of this. If you create the script inside ~/bin (after a login with the directory ~/bin created) the PATH variable will already include that path, and the script will be executed by just naming it:

$ cd ~/bin                   ### create the dir if it didn't exist.
$ echo "echo YES" >> myprog
$ chmod u+x myprog
$ cd ~
$ myprog                     ### remember to reload ~/.bashrc (re-login).

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