BASH dear friend I’ve got a new mate, I’ll see you around.

Ask most Linux users or administrators what their favourite shell is, and you will probably be met by a brief pause and a bemused look, what else is there other than BASH (URL) or the Bourne Again Shell? Well, it depends on the *nix distro that you're using and what is installed by default, but for many of my contemporaries starting a new script with the shebang: #!/bin/bash is the only logical outcome. Though perhaps I'm showing my age here. I'm going to take a position and suggest that if you were born between 1975 and 1985 then this is more likely to resonate with you. If you have no idea what I'm talking about and are quickly looking for the comfort blanket of Windows Powershell which I note has been with us just 14 years then fear not, here's a link to Microsoft 's new WSL2 (URL) and navigation back to a familiar place; install a distro and let's talk again soon.

Still reading, great! I've been frustrated recently on one of my Apple Mac machines having to specifically type 'bash' when entering the terminal and being greeted that Zsh is now default, I just ignored it and moved on dismissively. However when Kali recently announced that it would switch to Zsh under release 2020.4 (URL) as well I thought I should figure out what is going on here. Why would two of my good friends both switch away from our much-loved common friend Bash? Why didn't they tell me and more to the point have they been honest with our mate Bash or just sending his calls to /dev/null?

First of all who is Zsh? And why does he insist on finishing my sentences like he knows what I'm going to say, honestly it should be annoying but it's actually pretty handy and time saving. For starter here's Wikipedia's entry on Zsh, and I note 30 years old this year (URL). Reading through a couple of technical blogs I see that it's more likely than not that Apple has switch to Zsh due to it's MIT licencing over GNU licencing (URL) which can have commercial implications for what is most days of the week one of the world's top 5 most valuable companies. So fine they'll be more affluent moving away to hang out with Zsh, I get it but it just makes me think of the Black Mirror Episode Nosedive (URL), chasing wealth and popularity alone can only end in tears?

So why has Kali moved away as well now? Well they offer a decent explanation and politely acknowledge that your choice of shell is very personal and precious (thanks for being so understanding, I appreciate that!). They have a decent infographic that is worth reviewing briefly (URL), and after a quick read I'm actually pretty stoked about the subtle but no doubt time saving switches that Zsh has for me. I don't have tocd ../../.. to drop back a few folders and it will auto complete paths I'm navigating to, so far so good. It also turns out that Zsh has a whole fanclub of followers: 'Oh my Zsh' (URL) a popular being it seems, and after looking through some of the themes on offer there are some 250 plugins and over 150 themes; seems everyone is invited to the party.

Alright so time for a difficult conversation. Bash dear friend I'm going to hang out with Zsh and get to know what the excitement is about seems there's a lot happening and I need to get up to speed, take care for now it's been a great run.

There's some further reading and an engaging YouTube video below that are worth reviewing:

Further Reading:


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