Enabling bash autocompletion on Debian


Open up a terminal, then type:

nano /etc/bash.bashrc

Now, search for the following commented lines (lines with a starting #)

# enable bash completion in interactive shells
#if [ -f /etc/bash_completion ]; then
#. /etc/bash_completion

And uncomment them like this:

# enable bash completion in interactive shells
if [ -f /etc/bash_completion ]; then
. /etc/bash_completion

Now whenever you want to install a package, for example, you need only type the first letters of the package in the apt-get install command line and then hit tab twice to list available packages starting with those letters.

e.g. Typing

apt-get ins<TAB>

will autocomplete to apt-get install. Now continue and type

apt-get install amar<TAB>

and a list with every package with “amar” in their name will be shown. In this example, it will probably list packages such as amaroK and amarok-engines.

I know this feature works with far more commands, however I can’t enumerate all of them because I just don’t know they all. If you think it may work in the context you are in, then it costs nothing to try and check it yourself. Sometimes you’ll be surprised!


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