Although I’m on Debian Linux, Apple’s recent announcement about replacing Bash with Zsh on MacOS made me take a look at Z-shell aka zsh. It’s a POSIX compliant Bash alternative that has been around for quite a long time. While Bash shell’s efficiency and ubiquity make it hard to think about changing the default shell of your primary development machine, I find its features as an interactive shell to be somewhat limited. So I did some digging around and soon found out that zsh’s lackluster default configurations and bloated ecosystem make it difficult for someone who just want to switch without any extra overhead. So, let’s make the process quicker. Here is what we are aiming for:

  • A working shell that can (almost always) take bash commands without complaining (looking at you fish)
  • History based autocomplete
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Git branch annotations

Instructions were applied and tested on debian based linux (Ubuntu)

Install Z Shell


To install on a debian based linux, type:

$ apt install zsh


Use homebrew to install zsh on MacOs. Run:

$ brew install zsh

Make Zsh as Your Default Shell


$ chsh -s $(which zsh)

Install Oh-My-Zsh Framework

Oh-My-Zsh is the tool that makes zsh so much fun and overly configurable at the same time. So we’ll tread here carefully. To install oh-my-zsh , type:

$ sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"

Set Firacode As the Default Terminal Font

Your selected theme may not display all the glyphs if the default terminal font doesn’t support them. Installing a font with glyphs and ligature support can solve this. I recommend installing firacode and setting that as your default terminal font. Install Fira Code From here.

Set Syntax Highlighting

Using zsh-syntax-highlighting to achieve this.

  • Clone this repository in oh-my-zsh’s plugins directory

    $ git clone ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-syntax-highlighting
  • Activate the plugin in ~/.zshrc

    plugins=( [plugins...] zsh-syntax-highlighting)
  • Source ~/.zshrc

Set Suggestions

Using zsh-autosuggestions to achieve this.

  • Clone this repository into $ZSH_CUSTOM/plugins (by default ~/.oh-my-zsh/custom/plugins)

    $ git clone ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions
  • Add the plugin to the list of plugins for Oh My Zsh to load (inside ~/.zshrc )

  • Source ~/.zshrc

Start a new terminal session to see the effects!!! You might need to log out and log in again for the changes to be effective.

Load .profile from .zprofile

Add the following lines to ~/.zprofile and source via the command: source ~/.zprofile. Make sure you are on zsh before running the source command.

  [[ -e ~/.profile ]] && emulate sh -c 'source ~/.profile'

A Barebone ~/.zshrc

Instead of adding the plugins individually, you can just install the plugins and then add this barebone config to your ~/.zshrc . Don’t forget to replace YourUserName with your username. Source your zshrc once you are done.

# =====================
# =====================

# omz path
export ZSH="$HOME/.oh-my-zsh"

# theme settings

# pluging settings
plugins=(git zsh-syntax-highlighting zsh-autosuggestions)

# autosuggestion highlight

# source omz
source $ZSH/

#History setup

zstyle ':completion:*' menu select
zstyle ':completion:*' group-name ''                                        # group results by category
zstyle ':completion:::::' completer _expand _complete _ignored _approximate #enable approximate matches for completion

#disable auto correct
unsetopt correct_all

Set Terminal Color (Optional)

Optionally you customize your terminal color and in this case I’ve used Gogh to achieve this.

  • Pre Install
  $ sudo apt-get install dconf-cli uuid-runtime
  • Install on Linux
   $ bash -c  "$(wget -qO-"
  • Install on MacOS
      $  bash -c  "$(curl -sLo-"
  • Put the code associated with your desired color scheme. alt

Updating OMZ

$ upgrade_oh_my_zsh

Uninstall Zsh

$ sudo apt-get --purge remove zsh

Uninstall OMZ

$ uninstall_oh_my_zsh

Switch Back to Bash

$ chsh -s $(which bash)


  1. Oh-My-Zsh
  2. FiraCode
  3. Gogh