0xStubs

System Administration, Reconfigurable Computing and HPC

Modifying environment variables in the Atom editor

If you are using the Atom editor, you may at some point need to set or modify certain environment variables within your editor, e.g., to allow packages to locate binaries that are not located within your normal $PATH. A solution you often find on the internet is to add a small snippet to your init.coffee script:

process.env.PATH = [
  '/my/special/path/for/atom'
  process.env.PATH
].join(':')

However, this does not always work. Even worse: If it works or not may change each time you launch Atom. So, what is the problem here?

During launch, Atom runs a routine called updateProcessEnv() that configures the environment. However, to not delay startup unnecessarily, this is an asynchronous function. During launch, it is called, then the user’s init.coffee script is run, and only after that the completion of updateProcessEnv is awaited. So if you modify the environment within init.coffee, there is a good chance that Atom’s startup procedure will overwrite it again a couple of milliseconds later.

So, how can we deal with this and reliably modify the environment? Luckily, Atom emits an event as soon as the environment has been setup. So we can use a construct like the following in init.coffee:

modEnv = ->
  return unless atom.shellEnvironmentLoaded
  process.env.PATH = [
    '/my/special/path/for/atom'
    process.env.PATH
  ].join(':')
modEnv()
atom.emitter.on 'loaded-shell-environment', modEnv

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.