The best shell for Linux

Written on March 15, 2015
Estimated reading time : 2 mins
Tags : | bash | shell | zsh |

I had done this research a few years back. Adding to the blog now.


To compare various shells & recommend one.

Problem Statement

I want to use a best shell on my local workstation for Linux OS

Background Info

  • In this whitepaper, we are concentrating only on Unix shells (CLI).
  • For our comparison, we are not considering c-shells (csh, tcsh) since their conformity to C programming standards make them a bit different from the shells we are used to (bash).
  • Additionally the csh is not favoured as much as sh (check the ref section for more)


Solution 1 - Zsh

Has all the features of Bash & other shells + offers numerous more.

Zsh Auto Help


  • Provides context based command line completions (case insensitive by default)
  • Very customizable
  • The oh-my-zsh or prezto community framework provides various custom libraries, themes & plugins which integrate well with other applications like git, svn, ruby etc to provide the user with a lot of helpful info without the need to execute multiple commands for it.
  • Sharing of command history among terminals
  • Ability to search(file globbing) without need of external programs like find
  • Spell correction
  • Various compatibility modes wherein zsh can pretend to be like other shells
  • Active community support



Solution 2 - Bash (Default)

  • It is the default interactive shell for users on most Linux and Mac OS X systems.
  • The auto completion part comes in built with Ubuntu now unlike earlier times where we had to install it.



  • Default installation in the popular Ubuntu OS
  • Trying to catch up with Zsh with new versions having some features like auto complete as default in it.
  • Some configuration frameworks like Bash-It inspired by oh-my-zsh have emerged but not as feature friendly as Zsh.
  • Bash has paid more attention to standards compliancy (i.e. POSIX) for longer, and has so far avoided the more abstruse interactive features (programmable completion, etc.) that zsh has.


  • No where near Zsh as far as features go.
  • Limited context based support.


  • Zsh has Better completion handling
  • Zsh has better spelling correction
  • Zsh has right hand prompts
  • Zsh has more active community support


  • Zsh
    • Extremely rich in functionality & useful for every developer.
    • Unlikely for someone working with zsh to go back to bash.


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