Fixing compinit: insecure directories and files

By

January 24, 2023

After installing nvm on my Macbook I kept getting the error zsh compinit: insecure directories and files whenever I opened a new shell. The script would prompt for me continue or abort.

zsh compinit: insecure directories and files, run compaudit for list.
Ignore insecure directories and files and continue [y] or abort compinit [n]? 

My initial Google searches found results suggesting that I change file ownership or permissions but this either didn't work or caused other issues. After being driven crazy by this for months I finally solved the problem.

The error was being caused when the $NVM_DIR/bash_completion script was being run in my .zshrc file. That script runs the compinit command.

It turns out that the compinit command can be run with a -u option which makes it silently ignore these error. Clearly this is a known problem because the call to compinit is wrapped in a check allowing it to be called with or without the -u options.

In the end all I needed to do is add one line to my ~/.zshrc file before the line running $NVM_DIR/bash_completion.

export ZSH_DISABLE_COMPFIX=true

That's it!

The $NVM_DIR/bash_completion now runs compinit -u which ignores the errors.

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