Using bash autocompletion

When possible, PLUMED tries to install bash autocompletion so that you do not have to do anything. Just use the <TAB> key to complete plumed commands (e.g. plumed dr<TAB>) or even options (e.g. plumed driver --i<TAB>). In case this does not work, you might have to add the following lines to your .bashrc file:

_plumed() { eval "$(plumed --no-mpi completion 2>/dev/null)";}
complete -F _plumed -o default plumed

When typing on the the shell you should observe the following behavior.

> plumed <TAB>

will autocomplete with the names of the available PLUMED commands (e.g. driver, help, etc).

> plumed -<TAB>

will autocomplete with the available PLUMED options (e.g. --no-mpi, etc).

PLUMED also knows which are the options available for each command (e.g. plumed driver --natoms). So, the following

> plumed driver -<TAB>

(notice the -) will autocomplete to the options of plumed driver. On the contrary

> plumed driver --ixtc <TAB>

(notice the there is no - before <TAB>) will autocomplete to the files in the current directory.

Also notice that every time you use the <TAB> key to autocomplete the command plumed will be invoked. This should allow the correct commands and options to be reported depending on the exact plumed command in the current execution path. For instance, if you have multiple PLUMED versions installed with env modules, you should be able to see the commands available in the currently loaded version. Clearly, this feature will only be available if plumed can run on this machine (that is: will not work if you are cross compiling). This is not a problem since you are not expecting to run the plumed command in this specific case.


At configure time if the variable BASH_COMPLETION_DIR is defined it will be used to decide where PLUMED autocompletion should be installed. Otherwise, configure will look for the presence of the bash-completion package and, in case it is installed on the same prefix as PLUMED, also PLUMED autocompletion will be installed. Finally, if none of these two conditions are satisfied, autocompletion will not be enabled. You will have to change your bashrc file once adding the following lines:

_plumed() { eval "$(plumed --no-mpi completion 2>/dev/null)";}
complete -F _plumed -o default plumed

The command plumed completion just writes on its standard output the body of a bash function that is then used by bash to construct the autocompletion. The --no-mpi flag makes it more likely that the command can be executed correctly e.g. when you are on the login node of a cluster and PLUMED was compiled with MPI but the login node does not support MPI. In other cases, it is harmless. The -o default options will make sure that if plumed --no-mpi completion returns an error the default bash completion will be used. This is what will happen if you load an older PLUMED version for which the completion command is not available yet. In future PLUMED versions the plumed completion command might return more sophisticated functions. You should be able to benefit of these features without ever changing your bash configuration file again.

Multiple versions and suffixes

In case you have multiple versions of PLUMED installed in separate env modules there is nothing more to do. However, if you have have multiple versions of PLUMED installed with different suffixes you should consistently add more lines to your profile file. For instance, if you installed two executables named plumed and plumed_mpi your configuration file should look like:

_plumed() { eval "$(plumed --no-mpi completion 2>/dev/null)";}
complete -F _plumed -o default plumed
_plumed_mpi() { eval "$(plumed_mpi --no-mpi completion 2>/dev/null)";}
complete -F _plumed_mpi -o default plumed_mpi