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Journal of markjugg (792)

Saturday April 03, 2004
01:29 PM

tab completion with scp

[ #18184 ]

scp is a beautifully simple tool for remote file transfers. My one annoyance with it was that tab completion didn't work. How could it? The connection isn't made until after the complete command is given.

Quite by accident today I noticed scp tab completion just worked on Debian box. What happened was that Debian has a couple different defaults that came together to provide me a great user experience.

First, by default X window sessions are run through ssh-agent. This helps with password-less ssh and scp connections. Earler I had simply typed ssh-add to enable passwordless secure connections with servers I share keys with.

Next, Debian seems to have installed the highly useful bash completion package by default. This package was working with my passwordless ssh setup to provide the seamless tab-completion. Both the hostname and the remote path names on the remote server were able to complete.

I highly recommend trying out the bash completion package. Here's a partial list of programs bash completion has custom completion for:

bash alias
bash export
bash shell function
bash complete
chown(1)
chgrp(1)
umount(8)
mount(8)
Linux rmmod(8)
Linux insmod(8), modprobe(8) and modinfo(8)
man(1)
renice(8)
kill(1)
Linux and FreeBSD killall(1)
GNU find(1)
Linux ifconfig(8)
Linux iwconfig(8)
RedHat & Debian GNU/Linux if{up,down}
Linux ipsec(8)
Postfix
cvs(1)
helper functions for rpm
rpm(8)
Debian apt-get(8)
Debian apt-cache(8)
Debian aptitude(1)
Debian apt-build(1)
chsh(1)
chkconfig(8)
ssh(1)
scp(1)
rsync(1)
Linux route(8)
GNU make(1)
GNU tar(1)
wvdial(1)
gpg(1)
iconv(1)
dict(1)
cdrecord(1)
mkisofs(8)
mc(1)
yu m(8)
yum-arch(8)
ImageMagick
dd(1)
Linux iptables(8)
tcpdump(8)
autorpm(8)
ant(1)
mysqladmin(1)
gzip(1)
bzip2(1)
o penssl(1)
screen(1)
lftp(1) bookmark
ncftp(1) bookmark
gdb(1)
Postgresql
psql(1)
createdb(1)
dropdb(1)
gcc(1)
Linux cardctl(8)
Debian dpkg(8)
Debian GNU dpkg-reconfigure(8)
Debian Linux dselect(8)
Java
java
javadoc
javac
PINE address-book
mutt
Debian reportbug(1)
Debian querybts(1)
update-alternatives
Python
Perl
rcs(1)
lilo(8)
links
FreeBSD package management tool
FreeBSD portupgrade
FreeBSD portinstall
Slackware Linux removepkg
look(1)
ypcat(1) and ypmatch(1)
mplayer(1)

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  • There are however a few major annoyances with the bash completion. One is when you have files with an unusual suffix. Consider an MP3 you are downloading from a peer2peer network and which gets temporarily stored as lsdkflskdlsdlfkl2lsldfklskl12l32.tmp.

    When bash completion covers your MP3 player, it expects to complete on .mp3 files and therefore you cannot use it on the above temporary file. So you have type the filename manually or use copy-and-paste. There are similar examples and so I eventually got ri
    • Since it's just a shell script, it seems like you could trim out the application completion with annoying behavior, and enjoy the the rest. Of course, if you end up sending more time fiddling with it than benefiting from it, I see your point. :)