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Re: xsrc/54851: .profile is not read by sh when using xdm or other login managers

The following reply was made to PR xsrc/54851; it has been noted by GNATS.

From: "John D. Baker" <>
Subject: Re: xsrc/54851: .profile is not read by sh when using xdm or other
 login managers
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2020 07:43:52 -0600 (CST)

 As noted by others, only login shells read ".profile".
 When 'xdm' starts the session, it is just another fork/chown/exec sequence
 and "/bin/sh" interpreting the master Xsession script
 ("/etc/X11/xdm/Xsession") is not a login shell.  The same is true for any
 display manager program that starts its session script with "/bin/sh".
 Since the various penguin-OS flavors typically have "bash" and it has the
 "-l" option to force it to be a login shell, such installations typically
   #!/bin/bash -l
 at the top of their master Xsession script.  Since the process is run as
 the local user, it reads their ".profile" (".bash_profile) the same as a
 terminal login.
 Some twenty-odd years ago I figured this out after tracing the "chain of
 custody" of the xdm session process and crafted a "~/.xsession" script
 to handle the situation by explicitly sourcing my ".profile" at the start
 of the script.
 # .xsession -- user-specific GUI session initialization
 # This script is the next-to-last thing that runs in the process started
 # by the display manager.
 # As it functions as a login shell, the script should read the system
 # and user-specific startup files to set up the user's environment.
 # This is often dependent on the shell interpreter used.
 # If we were executed by 'xinit' or included by 'startx', arrange for
 # output/error logging just like Xsession would.
 case $0 in
     exec > ~/.xsession-errors.${hostname} 2>&1
     echo "Executed as:  "${0##*/}
     # If we were executed as ".xsession", check which interpreter is in use.
     # If it is 'bash', assume we are a login shell already.
     # Otherwise, if it is not 'bash', source .profile to set environment.
     [ -z "$BASH_VERSION" ] && [ -s ~/.profile ] && . ~/.profile
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