I want to launch an interactive shell that has special aliases and functions, not the ones in the user's ~/.bashrc.

When starting bash in non-POSIX mode, specify a different start-up file with --rcfile:

bash --rcfile /my/custom/bashrc


bash --rcfile <(printf %s 'my; commands; here')


 ~ $ bash --rcfile /dev/fd/9 -i 9<<<'cowsay moo'
< moo >
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||
+bash-4.3$ exit

For POSIX-compatible shells, use the ENV environment variable:

  ~ $ ( { ENV=/dev/fd/9 exec -a sh bash -i; } 9<<<'echo yo' )
+sh-4.3$ exit

Unfortunately, ENV only works in bash and zsh when executed in their respective POSIX modes. Confusingly, Bash also has BASH_ENV, which only works in non-posix mode, and only in non-interactive shells.

Variant question: ''I have a script that sets up an environment, and I want to give the user control at the end of it.''

Put exec bash at the end of it to launch an interactive shell. This shell will inherit the environment variables and open FDs but none of the shell's internal state such as functions or aliases, since the shell process is being replaced by a new instance. Of course, you must also make sure that your script runs in a terminal -- otherwise, you must create one, for example, by using exec xterm -e bash.


BashFAQ/023 (last edited 2016-08-31 00:32:52 by ormaaj)