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Sometimes when I simply type a valid command like 'find ...', or anything really, I get back the following, which is completely unexpected and confusing (... is command name I type):

sh: $'\302\211...': command not found

There is some corruption going on I think. I don't use color in my prompt, I am using the Bash shell in POSIX mode as sh (chsh to /bin/sh and so on - $SHELL is sh).

What is going on and why does this keep happening? Anything I can debug? I think this is more of an xterm issue than sh, or at least a combination of the two.

Files, for context:

My /etc/profile, as distributed with Arch Linux x86-64:

# /etc/profile

#Set our umask
umask 022

# Set our default path
export PATH

# Load profiles from /etc/profile.d
if test -d /etc/profile.d/; then
        for profile in /etc/profile.d/*.sh; do
                test -r "$profile" && . "$profile"
        unset profile

# Source global bash config
if test "$PS1" && test "$BASH" && test -r /etc/bash.bashrc; then
        . /etc/bash.bashrc

# Termcap is outdated, old, and crusty, kill it.

# Man is much better than us at figuring this out

My /etc/shrc, which I created as a way to have sh parse some file on startup, when non-login shell. This is achieved using ENV variable set in /etc/environment with the line ENV=/etc/shrc:

PS1='\u@\H \w \$ '
alias ls='ls -F --color'
alias grep='grep -i --color'
[ -f ~/.shrc ] && . ~/.shrc

My ~/.profile, I am launching X when logging in through first virtual tty:

[[ -z $DISPLAY && $XDG_VTNR -eq 1 ]] && exec xinit -- -dpi 111

My ~/.xinitc, as you can see I am using the system as a Virtual Box guest:

xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources


awesome &

exec xterm

And finally, my ~/.Xresources, no fancy stuff here I guess:

*faceName: Inconsolata
*faceSize: 10
xterm*VT100*translations: #override <Btn1Up>: select-end(PRIMARY, CLIPBOARD, CUT_BUFFER0)

xterm*colorBDMode: true
xterm*colorBD: #ff8000
xterm*cursorColor: S_red

Since ~/.profile references among other things /etc/bash.bashrc, here is its content:

# /etc/bash.bashrc

# If not running interactively, don't do anything
[[ $- != *i* ]] && return

PS1='[\u@\h \W]\$ '
PS2='> '
PS3='> '
PS4='+ '

case ${TERM} in
    PROMPT_COMMAND=${PROMPT_COMMAND:+$PROMPT_COMMAND; }'printf "\033]0;%s@%s:%s\007" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "${PWD/#$HOME/~}"'

    PROMPT_COMMAND=${PROMPT_COMMAND:+$PROMPT_COMMAND; }'printf "\033_%s@%s:%s\033\\" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "${PWD/#$HOME/~}"'

[ -r /usr/share/bash-completion/bash_completion   ] && . /usr/share/bash-completion/bash_completion

I have no idea what that case statement does, by the way, it does look a bit suspicious though, but then again, who am I to know.

share|improve this question
What is the output of ls -l /bin/sh? Also, please post your ~/.bashrc, the problem is probably there. What OS is this? Answers are often OS-dependent. Are you connecting to a remote machine via ssh or is this local? If remote, please post your ~/.profile and/or ~/.bash_profile if present. – terdon Nov 7 '13 at 14:26
I have updated the question with all kinds of file content, I hope it suffices. Output of ls -l /bin/sh is lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Aug 25 12:06 /bin/sh -> bash*. I don't have a ~/.bashrc as I am running the Bash shell in so-called POSIX mode. No ~/.bash_profile either. – amn Nov 8 '13 at 8:29

That's the ‰ character also used as "CHARACTER TABULATION WITH JUSTIFICATION".

I guess you are using a specific keyboard or editor that uses this unusual character instead of the regular tab, which is normally ignored in shell command lines, or having a locale mismatch between the shell and the terminal emulator.

share|improve this answer
Sorry, I don't think I am following - am I using % somewhere? How? I am only using vim and locale reports all as en_US.UTF-8 except LC_ALL which is not set. Anything I can do to test your assumptions? – amn Nov 8 '13 at 10:11
@amn: I am almost sure it is not but the Unicode character "CHARACTER TABULATION WITH JUSTIFICATION". The code which bash shows is UTF-8 representation (C2 89) of the character (U+0089). I would check if you accidentally do not press some key (TAB?) or key combination before the problem occurs. If you have a suspicion, try the key combination here: od -ctx1. After typing the key sequence, press Enter and Ctrl+D. – pabouk Nov 8 '13 at 10:56
Indeed, it is not the common % but a control character that also have a graphic representation which is (per thousand vs percent). Is this happening during interactive shell sessions ? Are you using tab to autocomplete commands ? Is your keyboard providing a key ? – jlliagre Nov 8 '13 at 11:12
No whatever it is, and the error I described happens seemingly at random. I am not using tab when that happens. No on the keybord, either. od -ctx1 tells me sh: $'\302\211\302\211\302\211od': command not found - I think we're getting somewhere! – amn Nov 8 '13 at 11:59
Is the issue still present when using a different terminal emulator ? When connecting remotely from another machine ? – jlliagre Nov 8 '13 at 15:01

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