Bash completion seems to be ignoring what I've typed (it tries to complete, but acts as if there's nothing under the cursor). I know I saw it work on this machine earlier today, but I'm not sure what has changed. Some examples:

cd shows all directories under my current folder:

$ cd co<tab><tab>
cmake/    config/   doc/      examples/ include/  programs/ sandbox/  src/      .svn/     tests/    

Commands like ls and less show all files and directories under my current folder:

$ ls co<tab><tab>
cmake/          config/         .cproject       Doxyfile.in     include/        programs/       README.txt      src/            tests/          
CMakeLists.txt  COPYING.txt     doc/            examples/       mainpage.dox    .project        sandbox/        .svn/           

Even when I try to complete things from a different folder, it gives me only the results for my current folder (telling me that it is completely ignoring what I've typed):

$ cd ~/D<tab><tab>
cmake/    config/   doc/      examples/ include/  programs/ sandbox/  src/      .svn/     tests/    

But it seems to be working fine for commands and variables:

$ if<tab><tab>
if        ifconfig  ifdown    ifnames   ifquery   ifup      
$ echo $P<tab><tab>
$PATH        $PIPESTATUS  $PPID        $PS1         $PS2         $PS4         $PWD         $PYTHONPATH  

I do have this bit in my .bashrc, and I have confirmed that my .bashrc is indeed getting sourced:

if [ -f /etc/bash_completion ] && ! shopt -oq posix; then
    . /etc/bash_completion

I've even tried manually executing that file, but it doesn't fix the problem:

$ . /etc/bash_completion

There was even one point in time where it was working for ls, but was not working for cd ... but I can't replicate that result now.

Update: I also just discovered that I have terminals open from earlier that still work. I ran source .bashrc in one of them and afterwards completion was broken. Here is my .bashrc:

# ~/.bashrc: executed by bash(1) for non-login shells.
# see /usr/share/doc/bash/examples/startup-files (in the package bash-doc)
# for examples
# Modified by Neil Traft

#source ~/.profile

# Allow globs to expand hidden files
shopt -s dotglob nullglob

# If not running interactively, don't do anything
[ -z "$PS1" ] && return

# don't put duplicate lines or lines starting with space in the history.
# See bash(1) for more options

# append to the history file, don't overwrite it
shopt -s histappend

# for setting history length see HISTSIZE and HISTFILESIZE in bash(1)

# check the window size after each command and, if necessary,
# update the values of LINES and COLUMNS.
shopt -s checkwinsize

# If set, the pattern "**" used in a pathname expansion context will
# match all files and zero or more directories and subdirectories.
#shopt -s globstar

# make less more friendly for non-text input files, see lesspipe(1)
[ -x /usr/bin/lesspipe ] && eval "$(SHELL=/bin/sh lesspipe)"

# set variable identifying the chroot you work in (used in the prompt below)
if [ -z "$debian_chroot" ] && [ -r /etc/debian_chroot ]; then
    debian_chroot=$(cat /etc/debian_chroot)

# Color the prompt
export PS1="\[$(tput setaf 2)\]\u@\h:\[$(tput setaf 5)\]\W\[$(tput setaf 2)\] $\[$(tput sgr0)\] "

# enable color support of ls and also add handy aliases
if [ -x /usr/bin/dircolors ]; then
    test -r ~/.dircolors && eval "$(dircolors -b ~/.dircolors)" || eval "$(dircolors -b)"
    alias ls='ls --color=auto'
    #alias dir='dir --color=auto'
    #alias vdir='vdir --color=auto'
    alias grep='grep --color=auto'
    alias fgrep='fgrep --color=auto'
    alias egrep='egrep --color=auto'

# Add an "alert" alias for long running commands.  Use like so:
#   sleep 10; alert
alias alert='notify-send --urgency=low -i "$([ $? = 0 ] && echo terminal || echo error)" "$(history|tail -n1|sed -e '\''s/^\s*[0-9]\+\s*//;s/[;&|]\s*alert$//'\'')"'

# Alias definitions.
# You may want to put all your additions into a separate file like
# ~/.bash_aliases, instead of adding them here directly.
# See /usr/share/doc/bash-doc/examples in the bash-doc package.

if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
    . ~/.bash_aliases

# enable programmable completion features (you don't need to enable
# this, if it's already enabled in /etc/bash.bashrc and /etc/profile
# sources /etc/bash.bashrc).
if [ -f /etc/bash_completion ] && ! shopt -oq posix; then
    . /etc/bash_completion

1 Answer 1


Found it. It's the line:

shopt -s dotglob nullglob

Specifically, it was nullglob that caused the problem. Running shopt -u nullglob fixes it.

I thought that was only supposed to add dotfiles as candidates for glob expansion? Well, I guess that's sort of a separate question, so we'll call this question answered.

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