I don't understand how the source code blocks work exactly.

There are some variables, definitions and aliases in my .bashrc that I think I should be able to use in the source code blocks. However, when I run something like the following, the output suggests that my .bashrc is not being run.

#+BEGIN_SRC bash :results output
echo $0

: bash

Is this expected behaviour? How do I use the things in my bashrc file in source code blocks?

  • from what I understand Emacs will not read your aliases Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


You can find out how your code is executed by checking ob-shell.el. As for your particular example, your code is passed to bash as stdin, something like the following

$ echo 'echo $VAR_DEFINED_IN_BASHRC' | bash

It will not work, you need the following instead

$ echo 'echo $VAR_DEFINED_IN_BASHRC' | bash -i

So you need to run bash interactively (-i) to source your .bashrc, your can use :shebang argument, then org will create a script (i.e., executable file) and execute it directly via operation system.

#+BEGIN_SRC sh :shebang #!/bin/bash -i :results output

: 42

In my .bashrc, VAR_DEFINED_IN_BASHRC is set to 42.

  • this is an excellent answer. i wonder if there's an easy to also use bash and -i option. Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 17:35

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