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Shell scripts are used to customise your environment. /etc/profile is read once on login. The shell then looks for a file in your home directory called .profile. If you haven't got one then, depending on your set-up, a system default file might be used instead. Typing printenv and alias will show you how things have been set up for you. The `type' command can help you find out what will happen when you type something. E.g.

tw613/tpl: type cd
cd is a shell builtin
tw613/tpl: type handouts
handouts is /usr/local/bin/handouts
tw613/tpl: type lp
lp is a function
tw613/tpl: type history
history is an exported alias for fc -l

Tim Love 2010-04-27