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Every time I try to use a program from the terminal, I can't find it because it doesn't match the real name. For example, I type disks in terminal, but the real name is gnome-disks.

I tried to use:

sudo dpkg -l | grep disks 

to find it, but what about programs that do not match at all? What's the easiest way to find all names of installed programs in the terminal?

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4 Answers 4

This will list all man pagenames and short descriptions containing the text "disks". Note that this will not return anything for scripts or programs that do not have a manpage but every program supplied with the Ubuntu distro should have one...

man -k disks

OR...

apropos disks

For example...

 root@LX02:~  apropos disks
cryptdisks_start (8) - wrapper around cryptsetup which parses /etc/crypttab.
cryptdisks_stop (8)  - wrapper around cryptsetup which parses /etc/crypttab.
mtools (1)           - utilities to access DOS disks in Unix.
smartctl (8)         - Control and Monitor Utility for SMART Disks
udisks (1)           - udisks command line tool
udisks (7)           - Storage Management
udisks-daemon (8)    - udisks Daemon
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The easiest way is to inspect the "program starter" using the menu editor:

  • right-click on the menu button in the taskbar;
  • select Edit Menu - this will open the menu editor.

Now, you can choose the category at the left and the application at the right (Entries). Just select the application with a single left click, open the context menu with a right-click and select Properties. A small window will appear, showing (among other information) the command line.

Those program starter files usually reside in /usr/share/applications, so another approach would be to check the *.desktop files in that directory. If you're not sure about the name of the *.desktop to look for, do a grep from inside the /usr/share/applications directory:

grep gThumb * | grep 'Name='

will give you something like

gthumb.desktop:Name=gThumb
gthumb.desktop:X-GNOME-FullName=gThumb Image Viewer
gthumb-import.desktop:Name=Import with gThumb
gthumb-import.desktop:X-GNOME-FullName=gThumb Photo Import Tool

Now, you can just use less gthumb.desktop to inspect the details of that program starter.

Another way would be to use the apropos command to search a certain keyword in the man pages.

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for bin in $(for path in $(tr ':' '\n' <<<"$PATH"); do echo $path; done); do ls $bin; done |grep 'disk'

The above loop enumerates every file in each directory of your $PATH and shows any file matching the regex ('disk' in this case) passed to grep at the end of the pipeline.

If you have non-executable files in your $PATH this will also show those.

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Maybe not what you want to hear, but zsh (zshell) does a great job in command completion. It is (backward) compatible to bash so you don't have to learn something completely new.
With oh-my-zsh there is a good starting point of settings, that can easily be tweaked to your liking.

If I type 'disk' in my terminal it automagically suggests the following list, which can be traversed with .
cfdisk fdisk lvmdiskscan mkdiskimage sgdisk udisks udisks-tcp-bridge umount.udisks2
cgdisk gdisk memdiskfind sfdisk testdisk udisksctl umount.udisks

As you might have noticed I don't run gnome, so therefore no gnome-disks, but it would have definitely also found that one if it was present.

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