Zsh: The Powerful and User-Friendly Unix Shell

In the world of Unix-based operating systems, command-line interpreters, commonly known as shells, play a crucial role in interacting with the system. While there are several options available, one shell stands out for its advanced features, customization options, and enhanced productivity: Zsh. In this blog post, we will explore what Zsh is, its notable features, how to install it on Ubuntu, how to revert to the previous default shell, and how to remove it if needed.

What is Zsh?

Zsh, short for Z Shell, is an extended version of the Bourne shell (sh) that brings a plethora of features and improvements. It is designed to provide an interactive and user-friendly shell experience, both for interactive usage and scripting purposes. Zsh offers a range of capabilities that make it a popular choice among power users and developers.

Notable Features of Zsh:

  1. Command-line Editing: Zsh offers advanced command-line editing capabilities, allowing users to easily navigate and edit commands using keyboard shortcuts. This feature significantly improves efficiency and reduces typing errors.
  2. Autocompletion: Zsh’s robust autocompletion support is a real time-saver. It suggests and completes commands, file paths, and options as you type, helping you complete complex commands more quickly and accurately.
  3. Plugins and Themes: Zsh’s extensibility is one of its major strengths. It supports plugins and themes that can enhance functionality and personalize the shell’s appearance. Plugins extend Zsh with additional commands, completions, and features, while themes allow you to customize the visual aspect of your shell prompt.
  4. Advanced Globbing: Zsh offers powerful file globbing patterns, allowing for sophisticated matching and selection of files and directories based on various criteria. This feature provides flexible file manipulation capabilities.
  5. Improved Scripting: Zsh provides additional scripting features compared to traditional shells. It includes support for associative arrays, regular expressions, and more extensive control structures, making it an excellent choice for scripting tasks.
  6. Extensibility: Zsh allows users to extend its functionality by creating custom functions, aliases, and shell scripts. This extensibility empowers users to build their own utilities and automate tasks, tailoring the shell to their specific needs.

Installing Zsh on Ubuntu:

If you’re using Ubuntu and want to install Zsh, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T.
  2. Update the package lists by running the command:
   sudo apt update
  1. Install Zsh with the command:
   sudo apt install zsh
  1. During the installation, you might be asked to confirm the process. Enter Y and press Enter to proceed.
  2. Verify the successful installation by running:
   zsh --version
  1. To set Zsh as your default shell, run:
   chsh -s $(which zsh)

Enter your password when prompted.

  1. Close the current terminal session and open a new terminal. Zsh will now be your default shell, ready to provide a powerful and interactive shell experience.

Optional: Install Oh My Zsh:
To further enhance your Zsh experience, you can install Oh My Zsh, a popular Zsh configuration framework. Visit the Oh My Zsh GitHub page (https://github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh#basic-installation) for installation instructions.

Reverting to the Previous Default Shell:

If you wish to revert back to your

previous default shell after changing it to Zsh, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Run the chsh command with the -s option followed by the path of your previous default shell. For example, if your previous default shell was Bash, you would run:
   chsh -s /bin/bash

Replace /bin/bash with the appropriate path for your previous default shell. If you’re not sure about the path, you can find it by running which <shell> command, where <shell> is the name of your previous default shell (e.g., which bash).

  1. Enter your password when prompted. This step requires administrative privileges.
  2. Close the current terminal session and open a new terminal. The new terminal session will start with your previous default shell.

By changing the default shell back to your previous one, you can continue using it as you did before without any changes or modifications.

Removing Zsh from Ubuntu:

If you wish to remove Zsh from your Ubuntu system, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T.
  2. Execute the command to remove Zsh:
   sudo apt remove zsh
  1. Optionally, remove residual configuration files associated with Zsh:
   sudo apt purge zsh
  1. Confirm the successful removal by running:
   zsh --version

If Zsh is no longer installed, the command will return an error.

Zsh, the Z Shell, is a powerful and user-friendly Unix shell that offers advanced features, extensive customization options, and enhanced productivity. Its command-line editing, autocompletion, plugins, and scripting capabilities make it a favorite among power users and developers. By following simple steps, you can easily install Zsh on Ubuntu, revert to your previous default shell, or remove Zsh if needed. Give Zsh a try and unlock a new level of efficiency and convenience in your command-line interactions.