Restricted tab-completion is annoying

Joel Bryan Juliano joelbryan.juliano at
Thu Oct 11 00:20:39 UTC 2007

On 10/11/07, Aaron C. de Bruyn <ubuntu-devel-discuss at> wrote:
> Today a website generated a PDF file for me automatically and firefox
> popped up and asked if I wanted to download it.  I hit 'OK' and it saved '
> genpdf.asp' into my downloads folder.  I was surprised to find bash
> wouldn't tab-complete the filename.
> Apparently there is new (newer than dapper) bash completion code that
> restricts completed files based on the initial part of the
> command.  (/etc/bash_completion)
> I think this sucks.  I spend a lot of time at the bash prompt and use
> tab-completion constantly.  When you are in bash, I would expect you sorta
> know what you are doing.
> One example of where I *will* have issues is if I upgrade my home media
> server from Dapper to Gutsy.
> It stores all the video from my camcorder, copies of all my CDs and DVDs,
> pictures from digital cameras, etc...
> Most of the files don't have an extension because file extensions are
> sorta useless in Linux.
> If I upgrade to Gutsy it appears I won't be able to type in 'mplayer
> StarTrek-Wrath<TAB>' and have it fill in 'StarTrek-Wrath_of_Kahn'.
> So I guess I have two questions
> * Why does the tab-completion code that restricts based on command-names
> exist?  What benefit does this restriction have to power users??

I don't see the point why filenames needs to be tab-completed on default, it
does it when it's necessary.
Filenames does tab-complete on certain tasks and applications, depending on
what are you trying to accomplish?

For example, certain applications that require an input needs to
tab-complete a filename on it's parameters (i.e. rsync), and
executable files like python, perl, ruby & bash scripts would need
tab-completion to execute.

If you really want to autocomplete your filenames, you might as well make
your files executable,
and lastly why do you think this is necessary?

"object-oriented programming is really just a common sense extension of
structured programming" - Roger Sessions
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