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When bash encounters an unknown command(word?) it does this :

The program 'hello' can be found in the following packages:
 * hello
 * hello-debhelper
Try: sudo apt-get install <selected package>

what I would like to know is how this is done so I can edit it or add something before it to cross check the unknown word from a home grown dictionary which would have phrase:reply pairs that can then be sent to output.

I am guilty of not looking enough for it around .. but the few bash guides I tried digging up didn't have anything on this. Maybe I am looking at the wrong places .. any pointers?

And yes I am doing this so every time I type wtf when a program fails , I want something nice thrown back at me...

share|improve this question
While we're at it, how do you disable this altogether? – user606723 Oct 28 '11 at 17:31
@user606723 see – Lekensteyn Oct 28 '11 at 18:01
Another useful link: – glenn jackman Oct 28 '11 at 18:08
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Look in your /etc/bash.bashrc for the command_not_found_handle function definition.

If you want to remove that behaviour, put this in your .bashrc

[[ $(type -t command_not_found_handle) = "function" ]] && 
  unset -f command_not_found_handle

If you want to customize, you can do

# see
alias_function() {
  eval "${1}() $(declare -f ${2} | sed 1d)"

alias_function orig_command_not_found_handle command_not_found_handle 

command_not_found_handle() {
  args=( "$@" )

  do your stuff before
  orig_command_not_found_handle "$command" "${args[@]}"
  do your stuff after
share|improve this answer
I like this approach. – ændrük Oct 28 '11 at 18:00
wow! I liked the alias_function idea :-) – anishsane May 28 '13 at 5:00

This might be potentially useful...

The command-not-found package is what gives you the magic response. I'm not sure if it's possible to customize it, but it might be worth a look.

Another option to do what I think what you're trying to do would be to add an alias to your .bashrc file that prints a message whenever you type 'wtf' or something like that:

alias wtf='echo "chill out man"'

Add this to your ~/.bashrc file, and then do: source $HOME/.bashrc

This would then just print a message whenever you type wtf into your terminal. You could also make this alias call a script that prints a more detailed message or something similar. The possibilities are endless!

share|improve this answer

This behavior is defined in the system-wide Bash configuration file, /etc/bash.bashrc:

# if the command-not-found package is installed, use it
if [ -x /usr/lib/command-not-found -o -x /usr/share/command-not-found ]; then
  function command_not_found_handle {
    # check because c-n-f could've been removed in the meantime
    if [ -x /usr/lib/command-not-found ]; then
      /usr/bin/python /usr/lib/command-not-found -- "$1"
      return $?
    elif [ -x /usr/share/command-not-found ]; then
      /usr/bin/python /usr/share/command-not-found -- "$1"
      return $?
      return 127

To customize it, simply override this function in your own ~/.bashrc:

function command_not_found_handle {
  echo "Sorry, smotchkiss, try again."
share|improve this answer

@user606723, if you want to get rid of this behavior in it's entirety:

sudo apt-get remove command-not-found command-not-found-data 

If that doesn't work, try this:

sudo apt-get purge command-not-found command-not-found-data 

If you want to get the behavior back:

sudo apt-get install command-not-found
share|improve this answer

As an addition to the comment from glenn jackman.

Use fortune with an input file in the form:

A quote.
Another quote.
share|improve this answer
I fail to understand how a custom fortune quote would be triggered by a command not found. – MestreLion Nov 18 '11 at 2:00
Thanks for pointing this out. I meant in addition to the top comment. – Dimitris Leventeas Nov 18 '11 at 13:55

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