autocomplete sh: <( compgen -d -- '' ): No such file or directory

Posted by dansketcher on January 15, 2010

Not much of a title, I know, but something for fellow stumped google-wanderers..

I’ve been playing around with deprec for automatically provisioning new servers for my Rails applications. However, I hit a strange problem where certain command-line auto-completions did not work; I’d get an error message like this:

$ ls

$ cd [hit tab to get autocomplete]
-sh: <( compgen -d -- '' ): No such file or directory
-sh: <( compgen -f -X  -- '' ): No such file or directory

The confusing thing was that only the unpriviliged user exhibited this behaviour, not the root user.

I tried reinstalling the bash-completion package to no avail (even an aptitude purge then aptitude install did not work). Eventually I came across this rather long post on where someone else has the same problem. Essentially it comes down to the unpriviliged user using /bin/sh as the default shell; under these circumstances autocompletion is supposed to not function (although presumably without error). This is despite /bin/sh being a symlink to /bin/bash

The fix, then, is actually quite simple. Change the default shell for all your unprivileged users to bash:

# usermod -s /bin/bash dansketcher

and then when you make new users, make sure you select bash explicitly:

# useradd newuser -m -s /bin/bash

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