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I wonder where does linux, particularly Ubuntu or Debian, look to find binaries when we write to console to run them? For example when I write firef and hit the tab it completes to firefox. I know it looks it from /usr/bin but there may be another places.

My main problem is that I am working on a debian machine where I don't have a root access. I have only write access to my home directory and I want to add a stand-alone application(let's say eclipse) and then run it by just writing eclipse to the console.


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It checks the directories listed in $PATH.

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To add a bit to this answer, it checks directories listed in $PATH as they are listed, so if multiple directories have files with same name, executable in the first directory listed will be used. – AndrejaKo Mar 18 '11 at 9:28
... plus, of course, hash table lookasides and programmable completion have an effect as well. – JdeBP Mar 18 '11 at 14:23

You can add the directory of eclipse to your $PATH :


You will be able to launch all programs in this directory by just typing its name.

If you want to manage it a different way, you can also create a ~/bin directory in your home folder where you will put symbolic links to programs you want in direct access.


TARGET is the Eclipse bin path, LINK_NAME the command you want to run for launching Eclipse.

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If eclipse has any shared libraries that it needs (or dependencies on other things that aren't installed so you have to install in your homedir) you may have to also adjust $LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include the shared library directories. – Majenko Mar 18 '11 at 9:41

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