Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Say, I would like to change my editor system-wide to nano. I was doing this with

echo 'export EDITOR=/usr/bin/nano' >> /etc/bashrc

As I learned, it was a bad idea, because if you accidentally omit one >, you will overwrite bashrc and won't be able to log in. In addition to being error-prone, is this in any other way a bad idea and which way is better?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Iain, Sven, Jacob, dawud, Katherine Villyard Apr 5 '14 at 21:55

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Try including attempted solutions, why they didn't work, and the expected results. See How can I ask better questions on Server Fault? for further guidance." – Sven, Jacob, dawud, Katherine Villyard
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I've said it before but I'll say it again. You are way out of your depth. You need education (which is not our mission), not a Q&A site. Please spend considerably more time researching what you want to do before asking. – Iain Apr 5 '14 at 19:23
@Iain Is there anything wrong if this question will be properly answered on a public Q&A site? I can see here only public benefit, as well as my education. – Nickolai Leschov Apr 5 '14 at 20:09
Sad, harsh and true, cluelesness demonstrated on the scale that you do, devalues the site for the professionals that it is intended for. You are way over your head, perhaps U&L or SU may be better places for you to ask your questions. – Iain Apr 5 '14 at 20:26
@Iain Probably you are right; this particular question should be on U&L. – Nickolai Leschov Apr 5 '14 at 21:03

Actually edit the file with an editor like nano, or vim.

share|improve this answer

You can add system-wide environment variables in the file /etc/environment instead of adding commands to /etc/bashrc.

The entries would then be like


The rest of your question pretty much comes down to "how to edit a file without messing it up", which to some degree comes down to personal preference.

share|improve this answer
Is it ok that /etc/environment is empty by default? – Nickolai Leschov Apr 5 '14 at 17:33
That just means that it doesn't change any environment variables. – Håkan Lindqvist Apr 5 '14 at 17:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.