This tutorial will guide you through steps to install Zsh on Linux and Configure it to suit your needs.
Definition of shell from Wikipedia: A Unix shell is a command-line interpreter or shell that provides a traditional user interface for the Unix operating system and for Unix-like systems. Users direct the operation of the computer by entering commands as a text for a command line interpreter to execute or by creating text scripts of one or more such commands.
Most fresh installation of Linux comes pre-loaded with a Bash shell. Personally, I like zsh, and it’s my favorite shell that I use all the time.
Zsh does a bunch of other useful things that bash alone won’t accomplish. Apart from being a powerful scripting language, Zsh is a shell designed for interactive use. It incorporates into it many useful features of Bash, ksh, and tcsh. Other additional features provided by zsh are:
- Auto Completions are case insensitive much faster than bash.
- All sorts of bells and whistles made possible by a community-driven framework like oh-my-zsh.
- Support multi-line editing
- Recursive file globbing
- Highly compatible with ksh.
- Zsh has a huge collection of better themes.
- Simple configuration style
- Output redirection to multiple destinations
And many more, do some googling to learn more. Here you’ll Install Zsh on Linux.
Install Zsh Shell on Linux Distributions
Install zsh on Arch based systems:
sudo pacman -S zsh
How to install Zsh on Gentoo
emerge --ask zsh
Install Zsh on Debian based systems such as Ubuntu:
sudo apt update sudo apt install zsh
Install Zsh on Fedora / CentOS / Rocky / RHEL:
# Fedora / RHEL 8 based sudo dnf install zsh # CentOS 7 / RHEL 7 sudo yum install zsh
Check and Change shell to Zsh
Confirm it’s installed and see a list of installed shells. After you successfully install Zsh on Linux, you should see version displayed.
$ zsh --version zsh 5.8 (x86_64-ubuntu-linux-gnu)
After you’ve installed it, we need to make it our default shell and customize it to get extra eye-candy. You can change the shell for both root and standard user accounts.
sudo usermod $USER -s /usr/bin/zsh # OR sudo chsh -s /usr/bin/zsh $USER
The command above will change shell for current logged in user. You can also specify username:
sudo usermod username -s /usr/bin/zsh # OR sudo chsh -s /usr/bin/zsh username
Logout after the change to start using new shell:
Confirm if current shell is set to Zsh
$ echo $SHELL /usr/bin/zsh
If the default Zsh configuration file was not created, manually create empty one:
Install Oh My Zsh (framework for managing your zsh configuration)
The easiest way to customize zsh is to install Oh My Zsh to set zsh theme. Oh My Zsh is an open source, a community-driven framework for managing your zsh configuration. It comes with a load of plugins and themes to take advantage of. Install it as below.
Make sure you have all above prerequisites installed on your system.
sh -c "$(wget https://raw.github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh -O -)"
New look after install Oh My Zsh framework.
Once installed, you’ll get a bundle of themes that comes with it, located at ~/.oh-my-zsh/themes/
$ ls -l ~/.oh-my-zsh/themes/ ....omitted output ... -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 661 Mar 14 20:46 suvash.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 788 Mar 14 20:46 takashiyoshida.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 356 Mar 14 20:46 terminalparty.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 579 Mar 14 20:46 theunraveler.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 516 Mar 14 20:46 tjkirch.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 514 Mar 14 20:46 tjkirch_mod.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 1214 Mar 14 20:46 tonotdo.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 3642 Mar 14 20:46 trapd00r.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 4379 Mar 14 20:46 wedisagree.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 443 Mar 14 20:46 wezm+.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 366 Mar 14 20:46 wezm.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 333 Mar 14 20:46 wuffers.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 574 Mar 14 20:46 xiong-chiamiov-plus.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 554 Mar 14 20:46 xiong-chiamiov.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 2426 Mar 14 20:46 ys.zsh-theme -rw-r--r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu 727 Mar 14 20:46 zhann.zsh-theme
You can also take a look in the plugins directory to see all plugins available.
$ ls -lh ~/.oh-my-zsh/plugins ....omitted output ... drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 vscode drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 vundle drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 wakeonlan drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 wd drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 web-search drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 wp-cli drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 xcode drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 yarn drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 yii drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 yii2 drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 yum drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 z drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 zbell drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 zeus drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 zoxide drwxr-xr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 zsh-interactive-cd drwxr-xr-x 4 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Mar 14 20:46 zsh-navigation-tools
Install Oh My Zsh themes for Zsh
You can install custom themes to ~/.oh-my-zsh/themes/ and configure
~/.zshrc to use it.
Modify theme variable name to ZSH_THEME in ~/.zshrc. See example below:
$ vim ~/.zshrc ZSH_THEME="spaceship"
Save changes and exit. Type CTRL+X, Then Y. Source ~/.zshrc file
Configure Help command.
Add the following lines to the end.
autoload -U run-help autoload run-help-git autoload run-help-svn autoload run-help-svk alias help=run-help
Source it and you’re good to go.
Fish-like syntax highlighting (Optional)
Clone code to plugins folder:
cd ~/.oh-my-zsh/plugins git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-syntax-highlighting.git vim ~/.zshrc
Add below the line at the end,
Then source zshrc file
Persistent rehash: This allows compinit to automatically find new executables in the $PATH.
zstyle ':completion:*' rehash true
Save and exit, the source it.
Configure additional zsh-completions, applicable to all Linux systems. I will assume you already installed oh-my-zsh, if not refer to it above.
git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-completions ~/.oh-my-zsh/custom/plugins/zsh-completions
Then enable it in your .zshrc
Add the lines below:
plugins+=(zsh-completions) autoload -U compinit && compinit
zsh tab-completion system
To enable the famous zsh tab-completion system, you need to add above commands ( autoload -U compinit && compinit).
If you are running Arch Linux, you can install it using Pacman package manager. This has an advantage of getting updates for it automatically.
pacman -S zsh-completions
Installing zsh-completions on Gentoo
emerge --ask zsh-completions
Install zsh-completions on Fedora / CentOS / RHEL / Scientific Linux:
cd /etc/yum.repos.d/ wget https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:zsh-users:zsh-completions/RHEL_7/shells:zsh-users:zsh-completions.repo yum install zsh-completions
Also, check Configure Zsh syntax highlighting on Linux / macOS
We’ve covered how to Install Zsh on Linux and configuring Zsh environment on your system. Zsh is the most customizable shell I have ever used. It’s easy to install and customize with more than 100 themes. There are plenty of plugins to extend its functionality with frameworks like oh-my-zsh.