I am (slowly) switching to Vim for everyday Ruby on Rails coding (Linux Cinnamon 64bit). Being a newbie, I recently came across something I don't understand.

I want to use the :vimgrep and :grep commands for searching a pattern in a file tree from Vim. I am able to do so without problems with the :vimgrep command:

:vimgrep /User/gj **/*.rb

However, when I try to use the same command with :grep (which should use the system grep), no result is returned:

:grep User **/*.rb

Googling around, I found that the globstar options of my bash shell was not enabled:

$shopt globstar
globstar        off

It was easy to turn on:

$shopt -s globstar

I added the above line to my .vimrc file, and I made sure the option was permanently enabled in my bash.

With the new option, I could execute grep this way and get the desired results:

$grep User **/*.rb

Unfortunately, the :grep command from inside Vim is still not working with the '**'. And executing:

!shopt globstar

from inside Vim, the result is still off.

So the question is: can I propagate my bash's globstar option to my Vim external command environment? Otherwise, can I somehow set my grepprg option in Vim in a way that will allow me to use the globstar properly?

Thanks in advance to anyone who will help

  • Which version of vim? What does :help starstar-wildcard say?
    – muru
    Dec 9, 2014 at 9:59
  • 2
    :set shell=/bin/zsh or :set shell=/bin/bash\ -O\ globstar, or :let $BASHOPTS="globstar" Dec 9, 2014 at 10:03
  • vim version is VIM - Vi IMproved 7.4 (2013 Aug 10, compiled Jan 2 2014 19:39:32), I think the :help starstar-wildcard is relative to the internal commands (correct me if I am wrong) as the ** was already working with :vimgrep Dec 9, 2014 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


The shell options don't inherit to forked shells, but that's what Vim does when you use the :! command: it launches a new shell.

You can influence those forked shells in Vim via the 'shell' option:

:set shell+=\ -O\ globstar


:set shell=/bin/bash\ -O\ globstar
  • this worked like a charm. I also added set shell+=\ -O\ globstar to my .vimrc. Thanks a lot! Dec 9, 2014 at 10:40
  • Thanks; glad I could help. Don't forget to accept the answer by clicking on the outlined checkmark next to it! Dec 9, 2014 at 12:11

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