How to Install Zsh (with Oh-My-Zsh) in Linux (Ultimate Guide)

Linux TLDR
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Bash is the default shell for most of the Linux distributions, but it is not the only one; there are other shell interpreters like ZSH (and Fish) that are available.

Kali Linux and macOS Catalina were early adopters of ZSH as the default login shell, replacing the standard Bash (although Bash is available in this system as an alternative).

But because Bash is the default on most Linux systems, people often forget about the Zsh shell. This is disgraceful, because once you try ZSH, you will never go back to Bash.

Tutorial Details

DescriptionZ shell
Difficulty LevelModerate
Root or Sudo PrivilegesYes
OS CompatibilityUbuntu, Manjaro, Fedora, etc.
Prerequisiteswget, curl, git, chsh
Internet RequiredYes

A Short Story of Zsh Shell

The ZSH (or Z shell) can be said to be an extended version of the standard Bash shell interpreter, written by Paul Falstad in 1990 while studying at Princeton University.

It inherits all of the Bash’s existing features and provides its own notable features, followed by:

  • Auto command completion
  • Command suggestion
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Improved shell variable handling
  • Sharing command history, and many more

Even so, ZSH supports plugins that can be managed using Oh-My-Zsh to extend the existing functionality one step further.

What is Oh-My-Zsh?

Oh-My-Zsh is a free and open-source, community-driven framework for managing the ZSH configuration, plugins, and themes to remove the burden of manual work.

Even though it is not mandatory to install this framework, without it things might be a little tricky to get started. Apart from that, it is not the only but a popular framework for ZSH.

Today, in this article, you will learn to:

  • Installing ZSH’s latest version
  • Installing the Oh-My-Zsh framework to work with ZSH
  • Installing and enabling a custom theme (Powerlevel10k) using Oh-My-Zsh
  • Installing and enabling a plugin using Oh-My-Zsh

Step 1: Installing ZSH on the Linux System

ZSH is available in most Linux repositories, so you can directly open your terminal and execute one of the following commands based on your system type to install ZSH.

$ sudo apt install zsh                                                    #On Debian, Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, or Linux Mint
$ sudo dnf install zsh                                                    #On Fedora, AlmaLinux, RHEL, or Rocky Linux
$ sudo pacman -S zsh                                                  #On Arch, Manjaro, or EndeavourOS

Verify the path (or existence of ZSH) after the installation using the which command:

$ which zsh


Verifying the ZSH path

Step 2: Changing the Default Shell

The next step is to change your default shell to the Zsh shell using the chsh command.

$ chsh -s $(which zsh)

It will ask for the current user’s password while changing it, as shown.

Changing the default shell

Log out and then log back in to apply the changes.

When you open your terminal with a newly installed ZSH, it will ask for a configuration, as shown.

ZSH configuration

For now, press β€œ0” to create an empty β€œ~/.zshrc” configuration file.

Step 3: Installing the Oh-My-Zsh Framework

You need to install the following program based on your system type before installing the Oh-My-Zsh Framework on your system.

$ sudo apt install git curl wget                                              #On Debian, Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, or Linux Mint
$ sudo dnf install git curl wget                                              #On Fedora, AlmaLinux, RHEL, or Rocky Linux
$ sudo pacman -S git curl wget                                            #On Arch, Manjaro, or EndeavourOS

Execute any of the following commands to install the Oh-My-Zsh Framework after the above program has successfully installed on your system.

$ sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"


$ sh -c "$(wget -O -)"

After the Oh-My-Zsh Framework is installed, it will utilize the same β€œ~/.zshrc” configuration file to manage themes and plugins as the Zsh shell.

Step 4: Installing and Enabling a Custom Theme

The default theme β€œOh-My-Zsh” uses is β€œrobbyrussellβ€œ, a quite boring theme, as you can see.

Oh-My-Zsh default "robbyrussell" theme

Apart from the default, you can find more themes located at the β€œ~/.oh-my-zsh/themes” path.

Oh-My-Zsh theme directory

You can apply one of the above themes by editing the β€œZSH_THEME” directive in the β€œ~/.zshrc” file.

However, I will suggest you install the most popular and suggested β€œPowerLevel10k” theme by cloning it in your β€œthemes” directory using the following command.

$ git clone --depth=1 ~/powerlevel10k
$ echo 'source ~/powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k.zsh-theme' >>~/.zshrc

Next, execute the β€œzsh” command or open a new terminal session, and you will be presented with the following setup screen to configure your prompt.

PowerLevel10k setup screen

I think you will manage to configure the prompt as you like (it’s a very easy task).

Step 4: Installing and Enabling a Plugin

Identical to themes, Oh-My-Zsh provides you with tons of plugins to extend the functionality of the shell, some of them preinstalled, and you can find them at the β€œ~/.oh-my-zsh/plugins” path.

Oh-My-Zsh plugin directory

Initially, only the git plugin will be enabled by default; for the rest, you can specify their names; if any plugin you wish to use is not available, you can manually install them.

For example, open your terminal and execute the following command to clone the β€œZsh-autosuggestions” plugin to your β€œplugins” directory.

$ git clone ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions

Next, add the plugin name to the list of plugins inside the β€œ~/.zshrc” file, as shown.

Adding the plugin name to the zshrc file

Save and close the file, and reload the modified configuration file using the following command:

$ omz reload

To verify the plugin is working, you can type the first letter of the command that has been executed in the past, and you will get the shadow of that command, as shown.

zsh-autosuggestion plugin text shadow

Uninstalling the ZSH, Oh-My-Zsh, and PowerLevel10K

The article will be incomplete without showing the removal steps. If you don’t like working with ZSH and want to remove it immediately, then follow each of the following steps.

1. Changing the default shell:

$ chsh -s $(which bash)

2. Removing the ZSH:

$ sudo apt remove zsh                                            #On Debian, Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, or Linux Mint
$ sudo dnf remove zsh                                            #On Fedora, AlmaLinux, RHEL, or Rocky Linux
$ sudo pacman -R zsh                                             #On Arch, Manjaro, or EndeavourOS

3. Removing the Oh-My-Zsh directory (which will also remove the manually installed themes and plugins)

$ uninstall_oh_my_zsh

4. Remove the ZSH and PowerLevel10K configuration files.

$ rm -rf .zsh* .p10k.zsh

Lastly, log out and log back into your system to apply the changes.

That’s all about the ZSH in this article.

If you have any suggestions or encounter any errors, feel free to tell us in the comment section.

Learn about installation on Debian-based distributions by watching this video.

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