Under Unix-like operating systems you can either run scripts by specifying the interpreter along with the path python, or you can run them as programs ./, and have the interpreter specified in the shebang on the first line of the script.


#! interpreter [optional-arg]

the script content run by the specified interpreter
  • The interpreter must be a valid pathname for an executable. Therefore something like #!python will not work because python is not a path name. Use full path like #!/usr/bin/env python.
  • The interpreted usually takes only one argument, so you cannot do something like #!/usr/bin/env node --harmony.


#!/usr/bin/env bash
echo "Hello"


Env is an executable in Unix-like operating systems that, among other things, is often used by shell scripts to launch the correct interpreter. Env is located at /usr/bin/env.

It is recommended to use #!/usr/bin/env instead of the absolute path like #!/usr/bin/python. Although #!/usr/bin/python will work on a default Ubuntu system, it is good practice to use #!/usr/bin/env python instead.

Same thing can be said about shells, you should use #!/usr/bin/env bash instead of #!/bin/bash for portability reasons. Different *nixes put the bash in various places, and using /usr/bin/env is a workaround to run the first bash found on the PATH.

Common shebangs

Bash#!/usr/bin/env bash
Shell#!/usr/bin/env sh
Python#!/usr/bin/env python
Node.js#!/usr/bin/env node