How to Check Export Variables in Linux? A Comprehensive Guide


Linux is a powerful and versatile operating system used by millions of individuals and businesses worldwide. One of its essential features is the ability to set and manage environment variables. These variables play a crucial role in configuring various settings and behaviors of the system. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through various methods to check export variables in Linux. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user, this article will provide you with the expertise you need to effectively manage environment variables in your Linux environment.

How to Check Export Variables in Linux?

Checking export variables in Linux is an important skill that can help you understand and control how your system operates. Here, we’ll explore multiple methods to achieve this.

Using the printenv Command

The simplest way to check export variables is by using the printenv command. Open a terminal and type the following:


This command will display a list of all export variables currently set in your system. You can then scroll through the list to find the variables you’re interested in.

Inspecting the /etc/environment File

Another method to check export variables is by inspecting the /etc/environment file. This file contains system-wide environment variables that are applied to all users. Open the file using a text editor like nano or vim:

sudo nano /etc/environment

You’ll see a list of variable assignments in the form of VARNAME=value. This file is an excellent resource to understand the default environment settings on your Linux system.

Checking User-Specific Variables

Each user on a Linux system can have their own set of environment variables. These variables are often defined in the user’s .bashrc or .bash_profile files located in the home directory. To view these variables, use a text editor:

nano ~/.bashrc

Look for lines starting with export followed by variable assignments. This method is useful when you want to customize your environment variables for specific tasks.

Utilizing the env Command

The env command is similar to printenv, but it can also execute commands with modified environment variables. To check variables using the env command, type:


This will display a list of variables just like printenv. Additionally, you can use env to run commands with specific environment variable settings.

Exploring LSI Keywords and Their Importance

As we delve deeper into understanding how to check export variables in Linux, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. These keywords are conceptually related to our main topic and play a vital role in enhancing the comprehensiveness of our knowledge.

The Linux kernel exposes information about processes and system configuration through the /proc directory. You can navigate this directory to access information about environment variables for specific processes. Each running process has a directory named after its process ID (PID) within /proc. Inside the process directory, you’ll find a file named environ that contains the environment variables for that process.

cat /proc/{PID}/environ

Replace {PID} with the actual process ID. This method provides insight into the environment variables of running processes.

The Importance of Environment Variables

Environment variables are at the core of how Linux systems function. They influence various aspects of the operating system’s behavior, including system-wide settings, user preferences, and program behavior. By learning how to check export variables, you gain the ability to understand and customize the environment in which your applications and processes run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I set an environment variable in Linux?

To set an environment variable in Linux, you can use the export command followed by the variable name and value. For example:

export MY_VARIABLE=my_value

Can I change environment variables for other users?

No, regular users can’t change environment variables for other users. However, the system-wide environment variables in the /etc/environment file can be modified by administrators.

Are environment variables case-sensitive in Linux?

Yes, environment variables in Linux are case-sensitive. MY_VARIABLE and my_variable would be considered as two separate variables.

How can I make environment variable changes permanent?

To make environment variable changes permanent, you should add the relevant export commands to your shell configuration file, such as ~/.bashrc or ~/.bash_profile.

Can I delete an environment variable?

Yes, you can delete an environment variable using the unset command. For instance:


Are there predefined environment variables in Linux?

Yes, Linux has several predefined environment variables that provide information about the system, user, and more. Examples include PATH, HOME, and USER.

How to check export variables in Linux?

To check exported variables in Linux, use the “printenv” command.

How to check all env in Linux?

To view all environment variables in Linux, utilize the “env” command.

How to find env in Linux?

You can find environment variables in Linux using the “env” command.

What is environment list in Linux?

An environment list in Linux refers to a collection of variables that define the operating environment for processes and applications.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored various methods to check export variables in Linux. Understanding how to manage environment variables gives you a powerful tool to configure your system, customize user experiences, and optimize program behavior. Whether you’re a Linux enthusiast or a professional sysadmin, mastering environment variables will undoubtedly enhance your skills and efficiency.

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