Ubuntu is my Linux of choice. It has been for a long time. I’ve been a huge fan of Debian since the late ’90s – I was a Debian Developer stuck in the NM queue for a few years – but the release cycle was way too long for my tastes (which invariably meant I kept most of my systems running testing or unstable). So I switched to Ubuntu pretty early on.

I’m also a Ruby developer and, in particular, keep Ruby Enterprise Edition fed and cared for on my production servers. Every time I do a fresh install I have to remind myself how to make sure REE is always in the path and definitely in the path ahead of an accidental install of the stock Ruby on Ubuntu.

Here’s the list of things I’ve had to change this morning on Ubuntu 09.10 to make sure $PATH is set correctly everywhere:

  • /etc/environment, updating the PATH="..." line to read:


  • /etc/crontab, updating its PATH="..." line to read:


  • /etc/login.defs, updating the ENV_SUPATH and ENV_PATH lines to read:

    ENV_SUPATH PATH=/opt/ruby-enterprise/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin ENV_PATH PATH=/opt/ruby-enterprise/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/local/games:/usr/games

  • /etc/sudoers, where I’ve had to add the following line to override the compiled-in default:

    Defaults secure_path = "/opt/ruby-enterprise/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/X11R6/bin"

That seems to have covered everything. The incantation for sudo was a bit of a bother to find (it being a built in default rather than configured in /etc), but with it, sudo irb now works, when it didn’t before. I haven’t changed the paths specified in init scripts as it seemed unnecessary.

For reference, the command I user to determine what might need changed was:

sudo find /etc -type f | xargs sudo grep 'PATH=' | grep -v /opt/ruby-enterprise

It produced a number of false positives, but was a good bet for figuring out the right ones.

So, have I missed anything? Have I changed things I shouldn’t have changed?

(And yes, I know, I should be using some sort of Configuration Management system to bootstrap everything I touch…)

A Sneak Peek at
The Internet

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in my new project, A Sneak Peek at The Internet. What happens when you enter www.facebook.com into your web browser and hit return? A Sneak Peek at The Internet will take you on a deep dive through the network stack, from HTTP, SSL, TCP and IP, all the way down through the data link layer, back up to Facebook's data centres, and then on the return journey back to the browser.

There's more fun, excitement and peril than a Disneyland rollercoaster!