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I think that the export command is only active per login session, but I'm not sure. chsh I think is more permanent. Can someone clear this up for me (preferably with links/docs)? Thanks.

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chsh changes your login shell permanently (usually in /etc/passwd). See linux.die.net/man/1/chsh –  ott-- Sep 27 '13 at 20:33

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

chsh is generally what you want to use if you want to change your customary shell. It updates /etc/passwd so that your newly-selected shell is started upon each future login.

export SHELL doesn't do anything on its own. The SHELL variable is sometimes used by programs that want to spawn an external shell (say, to give you a command line in a certain directory, or with certain environment variables pre-set). If you want to run another shell temporarily, you would typically just run it directly like any other program. For example, if your normal shell is /bin/bash but you want to test something under /bin/tcsh, then just issue /bin/tcsh on the bash command line.

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Thanks! Linking to the man pages helped. –  Kevin Suttle Sep 28 '13 at 3:18
    
The SHELL link was the wrong link, BTW; fixed. –  jjlin Sep 28 '13 at 3:21

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