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Pixellany is certainly correct in post #5 -- rebooting will bring the path back to normal. You might also try going to init level 1, and back again to whatever runlevel you are at now. That should fix it too. Or, try sourcing /etc/profile or whatever is the equivalent file on the system in question.
Note: In your first post, you wrote that your friend (or whoever) did the following:
And then his $PATH showed this:
But something is amiss there; If the above is what he did, then $PATH would be empty. Perhaps you omitted a step?
In any event, if you (re)define a common environment variable, and then export it, it becomes part of that shell's environment. But it is only 'temporary'-- it isn't a permanent change to the system. You could say PATH="ogopogo and orange juice" end export it, and your path would be just that, until you exit that shell and/or reset the path and/or reboot.
Of course, if he edited /etc/profile and made a silly path in there, all that need be done is to fix that file, and reboot (or maybe go to init 1 and back to init 3/4/5) and it will be fixed.
PS - Yes, it reads line by line. So if you set PATH 5 times in a row, it will be overwritten (reset) each time, and will only end up containing the most recent bunch of items. This is why, when ADDING stuff to a PATH, we usually do: PATH="$(PATH}:/new/entry:/more/stuff:/bin/weird/location:." so that the NEW stuff gets added to the already existing stuff.
Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 01-23-2010 at 12:10 AM.