How could I switch from exuberant-ctags to universal-ctags. I am using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and

ctags --version reports

Exuberant Ctags 5.9~svn20110310, Copyright (C) 1996-2009 Darren Hiebert

2 Answers 2


It is simple, as in the universal-ctags docs:

git clone https://github.com/universal-ctags/ctags.git
cd ctags
sudo make install
  • where does it get installed?
    – gregghz
    Jul 20, 2017 at 20:46
  • @gregghz /usr/local/bin/ctags in my case
    – TheMY3
    Oct 11, 2017 at 7:57
  • 3
    In case you want to avoid sudo and install in your user directory, use ./configure --prefix=$HOME (then, no need for sudo for make install).
    – elias
    Dec 21, 2017 at 13:32
  • 3
    "It is simple", no it isn't. I have a stock Ubuntu 16 LTS, when you run autogen.sh you get autoreconf: not found. 'Simple' is running a deb file.
    – icc97
    Jun 17, 2018 at 22:41
  • 3
    I had to install automake and pkg-config before running ./autogen.sh on ubuntu 18.x
    – nick-s
    Oct 17, 2018 at 10:18

I'm on Ubuntu, and for me I can use either:

sudo apt install universal-ctags


sudo snap install universal-ctags

The snap has the advantage that it will work on any Ubuntu release (or on any other distribution with snapd installed.)

I manage this snap package, and currently (June 2022) make releases from the universal-ctags source every two weeks. So the snap is a lot more up-to-date (May 2022) than the apt (currently September 2021, on Jammy).

The snap has some disadvantages imposed by the snap security model (snaps run in a container, and are only granted access to specific aspects of the underlying host), so for example the snap of universal-tags cannot run on source code that is outside of your home folder. These limitations are described in detail on the snap listing page, but shouldn't be intrusive for the vast majority of normal use.

I've been happily using the snap version professionally for over two years now.

  • 1
    in ubuntu 16.04: $ sudo snap install universal-ctags works though! Jan 30, 2020 at 12:16
  • Yes, the same snap works in all (versions of) all distribution, and the snap's functionality is slowly improving as I throw more fixes in. I now use it daily, with no problems. Jan 30, 2020 at 17:18

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