Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fix broken autocompletion with zsh in cygwin


When you use zsh in cygwin, and you run cygwin as another user as you installed cygwin, autocomplete in zsh may not work.

When calling

$ compinit

you may recive the following message:

Ignore insecure directories and files and continue [y] or abort compinit [n]?

Pressing y will continue, but autocomplete will still not work.

$ compaudit

will show you the insecure directories.

There are some solutions in the internet, they didn't worked for me:

$compaudit | xargs chmod g-w
$compaudit | xargs chmod 550

It does not matter, if you use chmod manually on the specific directories, of if you even use chmod 0 (for testing).

This problem occurs only, when running cygwin as another user as you installed cygwin. And it may only occur, when this running user is an administrator (not tested with unprivileged user). The problem may be: As Administrator, you can "always" modify files, even if chmod disallows this. compinit does not know about this situation (its a unix app), but it finds out, that you have write acess to it - that's the problem.


The solution is simple: copy all insecure directores (call compaudit to show them) to your local profile and rewrite the $fpath variable.

Copy the zsh files to your local profile

cp -r /usr/share/zsh ~/.zsh

To change the $fpath variable, add in ~/.zshrc

fpath=(~/zsh/site-functions ~/.zsh/5.0.2/functions) # note: replace zsh-version with the needed one

Warning: if $fpath will accidently will be non valid (for example, changing $fpath befor copy the files), your zsh will stop working! To be sure, you should have bash as default shell, while modifying this.

When you are using prezto, you need to add it to  ~/.zpreztorc !

After that, you need to delete ~/.zcompdump and ~/.zcompdump.zwc and restart zsh.

This solution seems not to be very clean, but it's the only working solution i found out. If you have an better suggestion, please let me know.

Happy autocompleting!


  1. Thanks, this saved me a headache.

  2. Thanks a ton ! saved me the effort to reinstall zsh