I like to change the default shell environment on systems that I use to zsh and theme them a little. This post describes my usual changes.

Installing zsh

Here is how to install zsh on an Ubuntu system,

$ sudo apt-get install zsh

Next we need to change the default login shell for the current user. Here is the command (this is a bash commmand),

$ chsh -s $(which zsh)

After running the command, you need to log-off and log-in again. Just closing and re-opening the terminal isn’t enough. If you want to confirm the changes before logging off, you can visit /etc/passwd to see the default shell configured for the different users. I suggest not to edit that file directly.

Installing oh-my-zsh

This could be done automatically, but I feel it gives more control to do it manually. First we need to clone the repository,

$ git clone https://github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh.git ~/.oh-my-zsh

Next, to create a new zsh configuration file,

$ cp ~/.oh-my-zsh/templates/zshrc.zsh-template ~/.zshrc

The above command will over-write the existing .zshrc file. Considering that this was a clean install, I’m not concerned about making backups.

Configuring powerlevel10k

One of the reasons I like to use zsh - the wonderful theme support. There used to be an older 9k version of this theme which got depreciated. To install this version it is a simple matter of cloning the repo :)

$ git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/romkatv/powerlevel10k.git \

And finally, to set ZSH_THEME="powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k" in the ~/.zshrc file.

After all this is done, opening a new shell will start a configuration utility for the theme. We can edit ~/.p10k.zsh to customize the theme. Some of the changes I like to tweak are,

  • disable virtualenv config, since pyenv takes care of it
  • enable 2-line support
  • changing the prompt to $ - am just more used to it

Environment customizations

Tools like pyenv or nvm need some customizations which I throw into the ~/.zshrc file at this point (after installing oh-my-zsh ).