Z shell

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Z shell
Screenshot of a zsh session
Original author(s) Paul Falstad[1]
Developer(s) Peter Stephenson, et al.[1]
Initial release 1990; 25 years ago (1990)
Stable release 5.1.1 / September 11, 2015; 2 months ago (2015-09-11)
Written in C
Operating system Various
Type Unix shell
License MIT-like[2]
Website www.zsh.org

The Z shell (zsh) is a Unix shell that can be used as an interactive login shell and as a powerful command interpreter for shell scripting. Zsh can be thought of as an extended Bourne shell with a large number of improvements, including some features of bash, ksh, and tcsh.


Paul Falstad wrote the first version of zsh in 1990[3] while a student at Princeton University.[4] The name zsh derives from the name of Yale professor Zhong Shao (then an Assistant Professor at Princeton University) — Paul Falstad regarded Shao's login-id, "zsh", as a good name for a shell.[5][6] Speakers of American English pronounce "Z" as zee, so "Z shell" rhymes with "C shell", a homophone of "seashell".


Z shell's configuration utility for new users

Features of note include:

  • Programmable command-line completion that can help the user type both options and arguments for most used commands, with out-of-the-box support for several hundred commands
  • Sharing of command history among all running shells
  • Extended file globbing allows file specification without needing to run an external program such as find
  • Improved variable/array handling
  • Editing of multi-line commands in a single buffer
  • Spelling correction
  • Various compatibility modes, e.g. zsh can pretend to be a Bourne shell when run as /bin/sh
  • Themeable prompts, including the ability to put prompt information on the right side of the screen and have it auto-hide when typing a long command
  • Loadable modules, providing among other things: full TCP and Unix domain socket controls, an FTP client, and extended math functions
  • Fully customizable[7]
  • The built-in where command. Works like the which command but shows all locations of the target command in the directories specified in $PATH rather than only the one that will be used.
  • Named directories. This allows the user to set up a shortcuts such as ~mydir, which then behave the way ~ and ~user do.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Z Shell Manual" (Version 5.0.0). Sourceforge.net. July 21, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ "zsh / Code / [281031] /LICENCE". Paul Falstad. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ "zsh - a ksh/tcsh-like shell (part 1 of 8)". alt.sources. December 14, 1990. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Z-Shell Frequently-Asked Questions". Sourceforge.net. February 15, 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Z-Shell (ZSH) Lovers' Page". Guckes.net. c. 2004. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Zsh Mailing List Archive". Zsh.org. August 8, 2005. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Oh My ZSH - Community driven framework with 150+ plugins and 100+ themes". Retrieved May 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]