Zsh vs Bash – A Deep Dive

Are you interested in the Zsh and Bash shells, their differences, history, background, and more? Then, you are in the right place. This article will cover all of that, and get you more familiar with these two iconic shells.

Bash stands for Bourne-again shell, while Zsh means Z shell. These shells are default in many Unix-like operating systems such as macOS and Linux. These two shells have many similarities, which will become much more apparent after you learn more about them. Now, let’s dive into an in-depth comparison of the two.

Zsh vs Bash: Origins

The first Unix operating system came into existence in 1971, but the Bourne shell (the first version of Bash) came into existence only in 1979, with the Unix version 7. Bash shell is a creation of Brian Fox, and it came out in 1989.

It was an improved version of the Bourne shell, with the ability of a scripting language. That allowed all users of Bash to write programs of their own and automate tasks. Paul Falstad, a student at Princeton University, created Zsh.

The development of Zsh has a lot to do with Oh My Zsh, an online community that helped improve it. The most significant progress for the Zsh shell was in June 2019, when Apple adopted it as a default shell for macOS Catalina.

ZSH vs Bash

Zsh vs Bash: Similarities

There are many similar features of Zsh and Bash, and it is worth mentioning that both are very powerful and effective. Both of them have the z command. It provides you a history of changes made to your directories. You need to type in z, followed by the name of your folder to access the command.

Zsh and Bash are pretty alike, both visually as well as in their commands. You can use the LS_colors variable to customize the interface. Zsh is slightly sleeker thanks to color coding for better visibility, and it has better font boldness.

The Zsh and Bash interfaces are overall pretty similar. There is also the auto-correction feature in both shells. The Zsh is slightly smarter, as it automatically detects types and corrects it. In Bash, you need to use short commands, such as dirspell and cdspell, to enable auto-correction.

Auto-completion is also available in both shells. To activate it, type in the command, then press – and TAB. That will give you a list of options for the said command.

Zsh vs Bash: Which Is Better?

Saying one shell is better than the other wouldn’t be correct. Both of them have great qualities and features. Zsh is more modern, and it allows for more customization. Oh My Zsh is helpful, offering over a hundred themes and plugins to help you out.

Zsh has a fantastic community that is continuously improving it. Bash still has a lot of resources you can find online because it’s been around for such a long time. In terms of convenience, Zsh seems to have the edge nonetheless.

Bash offers conditional constructs, alias use, brace expansions, looping, etc. It is quite powerful, and far from outdated. Zsh brings better tools, more customization options, and user-friendly features.

The commands in these two shells easily translate into one another. That means that you can make an effortless switch when and if you decide to make it. We can’t advise you about that; you’ll have to try both Zsh and Bash to make the decision yourself.

Installing Zsh is easy if you have Homebrew on your macOS. Use this command:

brew install zsh

If you don’t know what theme to pick since there are many of them, try out powerlevel9k, it is incredible. It gives you great customization options and has a sharp interface and great history tools.

ZSH vs Bash - Deep Dive

It’s Up to You

There are no clear winners in the Zsh vs Bash duel. Both shells are impressive, with tons of cool features and abilities. Both have a great history, but even a brighter future. Switching from one to the other is not so hard, and most of the commands translate.

Are you using the good old Bash, or are you camp Zsh? Tell us which shell you prefer and share your experiences with us in the comments section.

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