I'm setting up a remote editing capability through Tramp from my Mac OS X laptop to an Ubuntu box, and have defined the following:

(setq tramp-default-user "myusername"
      tramp-default-host "myhostname")
(setq tramp-default-method "ssh")

;;Open a file on my linux box
(defun remote-find-file (file-name)
  "Like find file, but opens the file on my box"
  (interactive "FRemote Find File: ")
  (let ((tramp-file-name (expand-file-name file-name)))
    (find-file tramp-file-name)))
(global-set-key (kbd "C-x C-u") 'remote-find-file)

The issue I have is that expand-file-name is expanded using the Mac OS X conventions, so that ~ turns into /Users/myusername instead of /home/myusername. I suspect there's a way to fix this using file name completion, but I can't figure it out from the Tramp documentation.

  • Do you need to expand-file-name at all? I think TRAMP works fine if you pass the name unexpanded. – PythonNut Apr 20 '16 at 20:28
  • I guess I should have thought of that. Duh. Thanks. – rogerl Apr 20 '16 at 22:48

expand-file-name doesn't use any convention, it asks your operating system what the home directory of the user is. It can't guess that you want the home directory of a user with the same name but on a different machine.

In any case, your function doesn't do anything useful as it stands. To open a file in your home directory on the remote machine, type


Put a slash after /myhostname: to give an absolute path on the remote host.

You can abbreviate myhostname by defining an alias in your SSH configuration (example), so you'd have very little to type — with a one-letter alias, you'd just need to type C-x C-f /r: and then the file name to open a remote file. So I don't think the command you're trying to define is useful anyway.

  • Thanks, that's a much better solution. Now, can I also edit as superuser? – rogerl Apr 21 '16 at 0:21
  • @rogerl Yes, but it's more verbose: /ssh:myhostname|sudo::/path/to/file (but you can define a shortcut for it). – Gilles Apr 21 '16 at 8:50
  • Thanks. I had discovered the first syntax, but couldn't figure out from the documentation you pointed to how to actually set up a shortcut (I'm not really a LISP hacker). Would you mind putting an example in your answer? – rogerl Apr 21 '16 at 12:30
  • @rogerl This is getting to deviate quite a lot from your original question, please post a new question. – Gilles Apr 21 '16 at 12:50

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