When you first login to your user account (via GUI login screen, via SSH, etc), ~/.profile script is run. This script takes environment variables specified in /etc/environment and puts them in the $PATH environment variable.

When you launch a terminal, ~/.bashrc is run. This will run /etc/bash.bashrc (“global bashrc that is run for every user”).

This chain of scripts running set up your environment variables, as well as other things (like terminal colors/behavior, etc).

  • When you login, ~/.profile is run, which will add environment variables specified in /etc/environment.
  • Each time you open a terminal, ~/.bashrc is run, which runs /etc/bash.bashrc, both of these can modify $PATH (as well as other environment variables)