I have noticed that while on Ubuntu, if I type the following:


and it isn't installed, I get the message below:

The program 'mc' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing: sudo apt-get install mc

However in Debian, that is not available. It just gives a "-bash: /usr/bin/mc: No such file or directory" message. How can I implement the same functionality in bash command line on Debian? Yes, I know that if it is package suggestion that I want, I can simply do a regex search using apt-cache search. However I was hoping for the simpler suggestion immediately on typing the name of the program.

As per discussions, the functionality is provided by the package command-not-found. However even after installing it, and also installing bash-completion package, this isn't available on the Debian bash shell.

5 Answers 5


The reason that installing command-not-found did not start providing suggestions for non-installed packages was that I had missed a small notification from dpkg as part of the install.

One is supposed to run the command update-command-not-found immediately after running apt-get install command-not-found. In fact dpkg prompts for running this command.

  • 2
    I also had to run apt-get update before running update-command-not-found then either open a new bash session or source /etc/bash.bash.rc. Feb 20, 2019 at 16:53
  • I did an apt update before apt install command-not-found then the update-command-not-found, and then started a new shell, but found I needed another apt update and maybe update-command-not-found before it started working.
    – Dave X
    Apr 11, 2019 at 3:22

The debian package seems to be incomplete. The README says that you should source /etc/bash_command_not_found in your .bashrc. Strangely that file is not included in the package.

The debian command-not-found package is based on the ubuntu package. The ubuntu package seems to be more complete in that regard.

Content of the ubuntu version of bash_command_not_found:

command_not_found_handle() {
  if  [ -x /usr/lib/command-not-found ]; then
     /usr/lib/command-not-found -- "$1" 
     return $?
     return 127

Add those lines to your ~/.bashrc (or /etc/bash.bashrc) and the command-not-found feature should work.

  • 2
    The README is incorrect, Debian does not use that file. The handler is included in /etc/bash.bashrc (at least in Debian 9) which is run automatically by Bash interactive shells when they start up.
    – hackerb9
    Sep 11, 2017 at 2:08
  • Installing the command-not-found package (version 0.2.38-4 from debian.org) to MX Linux (Debian 9 Stretch base) did not modify /etc/bash.bashrc and subsequently didn't work until adding the lines in this answer.
    – Xen2050
    Sep 20, 2018 at 11:52

I solve this problem by:

First install command-not-found

sudo apt update
sudo apt install command-not-found

After that

sudo update-command-not-found
sudo apt update
  • 1
    This seems to me like the most correct answer.
    – swalog
    Sep 21, 2020 at 16:46
  • 1
    Correct answer was posted in 2013. This is a copy paste from it, 7 years later Jul 27, 2021 at 20:25

If you're not sure if update is working correctly or if your command-not-found is installed properly, just use

sudo apt reinstall command-not-found


sudo apt-get update

and lastly, before updating command-not-found use terminal as a root, by

sudo -i

You'll see that your hostname (part of the phrase before @) changed to "root" Then write this command


no need to write "sudo" here, because you're already recognized as a root and sudo didn't work here for me anyway. Only root access did. Nonetheless it should work fine now.


In Debian, after installation of command-not-found, you should issues this command:

apt-get update


apt-file update

please note that the command update-command-not-found doesn't affect. Also you should logout and login again to make the new command-not-found shell scripts in /etc/profile run. Or you can run/source them manually.

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