I am trying to install the exuberant-ctags package on Linux Mint. To do so I ran:

sudo apt-get install exuberant-ctags

The output is:

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 81 not upgraded.
Need to get 0 B/120 kB of archives.
After this operation, 334 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Selecting previously unselected package exuberant-ctags.
(Reading database ... 339129 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../exuberant-ctags_1%3a5.9~svn20110310-7ubuntu0.1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking exuberant-ctags (1:5.9~svn20110310-7ubuntu0.1) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ( ...
Setting up exuberant-ctags (1:5.9~svn20110310-7ubuntu0.1) ...
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/ctags-exuberant to provide /usr/bin/ctags (ctags) in auto mode

The last line suggests that ctags-exuberant is used instead of ctags.

When I, however, restart bash and run ctags -e I get the error:

ctags: invalid option -- 'e'

While the -e option is available in exuberant-ctags.

Why hasn't exuberant-ctags replaced ctags?


command -v ctags outputs:


(This is not what I want :)).

ls -l /usr/bin/ctags outputs:

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 23 Dec 28 2015 /usr/bin/ctags -> /etc/alternatives/ctags

ls -l /etc/alternatives/ctags outputs:

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 24 Aug 9 21:22 /etc/alternatives/ctags -> /usr/bin/ctags-exuberant


ctags --version outputs:

ctags (GNU Emacs 24.5)
Copyright (C) 2015 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This program is distributed under the terms in ETAGS.README

  • Please update the question with the output of command -v ctags and ls -l /usr/bin/ctags and ls -l /etc/alternatives/ctags and ctags --version – Stephen Harris Aug 9 '16 at 20:14
  • @StephenHarris done. – Erwin Rooijakkers Aug 9 '16 at 20:24

It's possible that your installation just added exuberant-ctags as an option for alternatives.

/usr/bin/update-alternatives --display ctags

If it is pointing to the wrong version you can manually set the alternative

sudo /usr/bin/update-alternatives --set ctags /usr/bin/ctags-exuberant

In your case, however (based on your question update) you have a non-packaged version of ctags in your PATH (/usr/local/bin/ctags) before the packaged ctags-exuberant and alternatives version, so this is being called first.

You either need to remove that version, modify your $PATH or add a symlink to /usr/bin/ctags earlier in your path (perhaps $HOME/bin) so that you're running the version you want to run.

  • Thanks. It is pointing to the correct version though. link currently points to /usr/bin/ctags-exuberant. – Erwin Rooijakkers Aug 9 '16 at 19:43
  • When I run /usr/bin/ctags-exuberant -e it does work. As a quick hack I can create an alias like so: alias ctags='/usr/bin/ctags-exuberant'. Edit: this does not work since emacs apparently uses another shell. – Erwin Rooijakkers Aug 9 '16 at 19:47
  • Thanks. Removing this local ctags version did the trick. Thank you very much for your help! Glad to have learned the command command. – Erwin Rooijakkers Aug 9 '16 at 20:25

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