Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Turning on autocompletion for the bash shell in terminal sessions

26th June 2013

At some point, I managed to lose the ability to have tab key based autocompletion on terminal sessions on my Ubuntu GNOME machine. Wanting it back had me turn to the web for an answer and I found it on a Linux Mint forum; the bash shell is so pervasive in the UNIX and Linux worlds that you can look anywhere for a fix like this.

The problem centred around the .bashrc file in my home area. It does have quite a few handy custom aliases and I must have done a foolish spring clean on the file sometime. That is the only way that I can explain how the following lines got removed:

if [ -f /etc/bash_completion ]; then
. /etc/bash_completion
fi

What they do is look to see if /etc/bash_completion can be found on your system and to use it for tab-based autocompletion. With the lines not in .bashrc, it couldn’t happen. Others may replace bash_completion with bash.bashrc to got a fuller complement of features but I’ll stick with what I have for now.

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