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On my work scientific linux 6.2 machine, I often start typing in a directory like below and use tab completion to finish it:


But when I hit tab, it becomes e.g.


With an extra forward slash at the start. Why is this, and can I prevent it? It's a pain because using cd etc. doesn't work with the extra slash, I have to start from the actual home directory which is something like


On these PCs.


Actually this problem did not show up for every directory, only one particular one, which I didn't realise when I asked. The cause of the problem is given in my answer to the question.

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Linux does not apply any tab completion. The shell does.

The boxes have a mis-configured completion system, or perhaps they mis-apply, for example zsh completion to bash or vice versa.

  1. Try starting another shell (bash, zsh) and sourcing /etc/profile* for that shell
  2. log in without a profile. ssh bash --noprofile --norc

This will help you figure out where the problem lies. I am confident that the problem is in the setup files (profile) of the host or user and that this is not an issue with the shell.

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Thanks, at least you have confirmed that this should not work this way, and is probably a setup problem I can contact the sysadmin about. As you might have guessed, I'm a relatively new Linux user. I will forward your reply to IT now that I know the problem is not me at least. I'll mark this as the answer if they agree. Until then, I would give you an upvote, but don't have enough rep on this site yet. – crobar Oct 27 '12 at 13:31
The real problem is that I had a directory name ~ in my home directory. See my answer below. – crobar Nov 1 '12 at 14:25
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I had accidentally created a directory named ~ in my home directory. This was the root cause of the problems. Removing this solved them.

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Read this blog post about installing an utility called bash-completion it's more powerful than the default tab completion code and it's more flexible.

The command completion by the way

Alternatively, When you issue the command:


Without parameters you will cd to your home directory, after that you can simply start to type:


And when you hit tab, the autocomplete will turn it to

share|improve this answer
Thanks for replying though, this is a work PC (or rather a network of many work PCs), so I can't really install whatever I want on it. Your workaround will work for the specific case of cd, but I don't always want to have to change directory to do this. – crobar Oct 27 '12 at 13:20

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