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An Introduction to Python
by Guido van Rossum and Fred L. Drake, Jr.
Paperback (6"x9"), 124 pages
ISBN 0954161769
RRP £12.95 ($19.95)

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2.2.4 The Interactive Startup File

When you use Python interactively, it is frequently handy to have some standard commands executed every time the interpreter is started. You can do this by setting an environment variable named ‘PYTHONSTARTUP’ to the name of a file containing your start-up commands. This is similar to the ‘.profile’ feature of the UNIX shells.

This file is only read in interactive sessions, not when Python reads commands from a script, and not when ‘/dev/tty’ is given as the explicit source of commands (which otherwise behaves like an interactive session). It is executed in the same namespace where interactive commands are executed, so that objects that it defines or imports can be used without qualification in the interactive session. You can also change the prompts sys.ps1 and sys.ps2 in this file.

If you want to read an additional start-up file from the current directory, you can program this in the global start-up file using code like this:

    if os.path.isfile('.pythonrc.py'):

If you want to use the startup file in a script, you must do this explicitly in the script:

    import os
    filename = os.environ.get('PYTHONSTARTUP')
    if filename and os.path.isfile(filename):
ISBN 0954161769An Introduction to PythonSee the print edition