How do I query the compile-time options of bash on a given system?

The system rc path for bash differs across systems. Sometimes it is /etc/bash.bashrc and sometimes it is /etc/bashrc. How can I detect this programmatically?

I know I can list options in a shell with:

set -o


  • (and sometimes it isn't anything at all ... at least on macOS, both the built-in and homebrew bash don't source /etc/bashrc unless told to) – muru Jul 7 at 17:30

As far as I can tell, Bash source code doesn't differentiate between SYS_BASHRC and other included rc files after compilation. In addition, SYS_BASHRC could be undefined, and the resulting binary wouldn't use a system rc at all.

All the files used by a process can be found out by strace, however. Bash includes rc files only if it is run interactively, so:

echo | strace -e openat -o tmp.log bash -i 2>/dev/null

The resulting file tmp.log will contain the information wanted:

openat(AT_FDCWD, "/etc/bash.bashrc", O_RDONLY) = 3

Unfortunately, it will also contain large numbers of lines e.g. for libraries (and the redirection to /dev/null). I'm not sure how to select the correct line in every case. But in practice I think it will most probably be the first non-library in /etc/:

grep -v O_CLOEXEC tmp.log | grep \"/etc | head -n 1 | sed -e 's/.*"\(.*\)".*/\1/'
  • 1
    You can tell bash to log the files: PS4='$(echo "${BASH_SOURCE}" >> tmp.log)' bash -ixc true 2>/dev/null, followed by awk '!a[$0]++' tmp.log – muru Jul 7 at 18:24
  • You're right, that's a neater solution. Though I'd use sort -u (or just head -n 1) instead of awk :) – Jaripekka Juhala Jul 7 at 20:33

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