newspaint

Documenting Problems That Were Difficult To Find The Answer To

Conditionally adding a directory to PATH if not already in PATH

In BASH it is possible to check that a directory is not already in the PATH environment variable before adding it.

The basic string-in-string search function was adopted from this forum post.

stringContains() { [ -z "${1##*$2*}" ]; }
stringBegins()   { [ -z "${1##$2*}"  ]; }
stringEnds()     { [ -z "${1##*$2}"  ]; }

# call as inPath "$PATH" "/my/new/path"
inPath() {
  if stringBegins   "$1" "$2:";  then return 0; fi
  if stringEnds     "$1" ":$2";  then return 0; fi
  if stringContains "$1" ":$2:"; then return 0; fi
  if [ "$1" == "$2" ];           then return 0; fi
  return 1;
}

If you wanted to, say, add “/home/myuser/bin” if it didn’t already exist, you could add the above functions and the following:

if inPath "$PATH" "/home/myuser/bin"; then
  : # do nothing
else
  PATH="$PATH:/home/myuser/bin"
fi

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