November 23, 2018

Ispell unable to open default.hash

For some reason, one of my Linux Mint 18.1 machines was not able to run ispell, which gave this error message:

Can't open /usr/lib/ispell/default.hash

Comparing this installation with another machine running the same OS, it seemed that the missing file was supposed to be the first in a chain of symlinks that eventually pointed to /var/lib/ispell/american.hash. The man page for ispell suggested that the buildhash program might possibly create the missing files, but I could find no instructions online about how to use it.

Eventually I figured out that I needed to install the missing iamerican package, which contains the missing files and runs buildhash as part of its configuration script. I’m still not sure why this package wasn’t installed automatically when the Mint was first installed on this machine.