On Unix, I can run Python scripts from the command line like this1:

PYTHONPATH=lib/python path/to/script.py

The setting of PYTHONPATH affects the run-time value of the sys.path variable, which is Python's equivalent of Mathematica's $Path variable.

For example:

% PYTHONPATH=/foo:/bar:/baz python -c 'import sys; print sys.path[1:4]'
['/foo', '/bar', '/baz']

Is there a similar way to modify the value of the $Path variable from the command line when invoking WolframScripts?

1 Of course, I can omit the PYTHONPATH=lib/python "prefix" by first running export PYTHONPATH=/absolute/path/to/lib/python. The form with the "prefix", however, gives me the flexibility to tailor the library path to the script, something I often find useful.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ How about mathkernel -run '$Path=...' ? $\endgroup$
    – ilian
    Dec 15, 2016 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ There are two environment variables that can be used for this, MATHEMATICA_BASE and MATHEMATICA_USERBASE. With them I think you should be able to achieve what you want, although they are not exactly the same thing as PYTHONPATH. Both are documented here $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2016 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AlbertRetey: Thanks for the pointer. After experimenting a bit with MATHEMATICA_BASE and MATHEMATICA_USERBASE, however, I concluded that Mathematica interprets them sufficiently differently from what I have in mind that decided to go with a different solution. (I've posted this solution as an answer, below.) $\endgroup$
    – kjo
    Dec 15, 2016 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


OK, I cobbled together this hack, inspired by Ilian's comment. Below is the content of a wrapper script, which I called wolframscript, and put in my $PATH:


components='"'"${MATHEMATICAPATH//:/'", "'}"'"'
setpath=$( printf '$Path = DeleteDuplicates @ Join[{%s}, $Path];' "$components" )
interpreter=$( which WolframScript )

exec $interpreter -run "$setpath" -script "$@"

Now, for example, if /tmp/test.m is the following executable script

#!/usr/bin/env wolframscript

Write["stdout", ToString @ Column @ Take[$Path, 3]];

...I can run

% MATHEMATICAPATH='/yabba:/dabba:/doo' /tmp/test.m

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