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I use the authorized-key to log into my remote ubuntu server. I need to use scp frequently to cp files from my local machine to my remote machine. I want to enable the autocompletion as I did with my local machine by bash-autocompletion.

How could I do that?


I tried zsh(, the scp works fine with auto-completion. How could I do it with my bash?

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What version of Ubuntu? What's the remote server running? ... – 0xC0000022L Feb 9 '12 at 15:16
Remote Server is running ubuntu 11.10 and sshd. – steveyang Feb 9 '12 at 15:24

Ubuntu and Debian to my knowledge bring with the bash-completion package exactly the functionality that you ask. However if the remote server has a scheme implemented to thwart break-in attempts (e.g. by limiting the number of connections within a given time interval and blocking if a client exceeds it) you will run into problems.

Check /etc/bash_completion on your system and /etc/bash_completion.d/ssh. If it doesn't exist, make sure to apt-get install bash-completion. Once that's done, make sure that your .bashrc or .profile loads that global auto-completion file.

This brings usually functionality to both auto-complete the remote hostname from your $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts (grep _known_hosts_real /etc/bash_completion) and auto-completion for remote folders on scp.

One note of caution: if the remote host outputs extra stuff upon login, the auto-completion tends to break. One way to work around this can be (but I found this not to work everywhere) to bail out without any output on the remote machine:

[ -z "$SSH_TTY" ] && exit

... i.e. show no banner or so. You include this line in /etc/sshd/sshrc on the remote box or at the top (below hashbang) of whatever script you are executing to show the ASCII art form of the fingerprint. Note that the above line is bourne-shell syntax, adjust it of needed. It checks whether the SSH_TTY env. variable is empty and if so exits with exit code 0.

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But it doesn't even work once... How should I config the sshd on the server side to enable this? – steveyang Feb 9 '12 at 15:22
Sheesh - talk about log pollution on the remote server. – EEAA Feb 9 '12 at 15:23
@yangchenyun: nothing to configure on the remote machine other than using ssh-copy-id (or manually copying your public key). – 0xC0000022L Feb 9 '12 at 15:25
@ErikA: sorry, no idea what you are talking about, but this does in no way require installation of anything on the remote server, other than sshd and sed, I think ... no "packages" required there at least. – 0xC0000022L Feb 9 '12 at 15:26
@STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED By "log pollution", I'm referring to the fact that, if this does what I think it does, bash-completion is going to authenticate to the remote server every time you hit tab so it can get the directory listing. The SNR of the logs will just go down significantly. Not a huge deal, but just an observation. – EEAA Feb 9 '12 at 15:28

I guess not, since you don't have access to the remote filesystem until you actually hit enter and authenticate when you are doing SCP.

bash-autocompletion kicks in only after getting successfully logged in to remote server or after loading bash profile which sources bash-completion script in the case of local login.

you might want to look into sshfs which mounts remote filesystem locally and then you can do auto-completion on that.

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nope, that's not correct ;) ... on Debian/Ubuntu please install the package bash-completion and check out the file /etc/bash_completion.d/ssh for an example implementation. – 0xC0000022L Feb 9 '12 at 15:28
If you use key authorization, it could work. As the ssh-agent will take care of the verification. Also zsh could archive this effect but I want to have it on my bash. – steveyang Feb 9 '12 at 15:31
I am aware of that ...please read my answer carefully(2nd paragraph).The guy is asking for autocompletion on remote machine folder while doing SCP from his computer ! Autocomplete works on his computer folders / files but will not work on remote computer's filesystem – kaji Feb 9 '12 at 15:34
@kaji: and the comment I made was to point out that his local auto-completion can be harnessed to complete file and folder names on scp to and from the remote machine (and yes, with the remote file/folder names). – 0xC0000022L Feb 9 '12 at 15:36
@STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED thanks i was just defending my answer ;) I will try to see if i could make it work with bash here as you explained – kaji Feb 9 '12 at 15:42

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