Difference Between zsh and bash

In Linux, we have to run different commands in the terminal to manage the operating system. For example, we open the terminal and run the “sudo reboot,” and the computer is restarted. How does it work? Shell is responsible for such tasks.

In this tutorial, we will learn more about the basics of shell and the two most used shells, i.e., bash and zsh, alongside their differences. 

Shell and Its Types in Linux

Shell is the interface used in Linux to communicate between the users and the kernel of Linux. Any command run in the terminal is processed through the Linux kernel, and the kernel redirects the command to perform that specific operation. There are different types of shells which are explained below:

  • The Bourne Shell (sh)
  • The GNU Bourne-Again Shell (bash)
  • The C Shell (csh)
  • The Korn Shell (ksh)
  • The Z Shell (zsh)
  • Fish Shell

All the shells are good, but the two major shells used by Linux users are the bash shell and the zsh shell, which are explained in detail in the coming sections. 

What is the Bash Shell?

The bash, also known as the “Bourne Again Shell,” was one of the oldest shells and was introduced in 1989. Most of the Linux distributions come with the bash by default, also the bash is also known as the command processor, as the users type the commands to perform different applications. Moreover, the bash script can also execute the command by reading them from the files known as bash scripting.

What is the zsh Shell?

The Z Shell, also known as the zsh shell, comes already installed on Kali Linux and macOS. The Zsh shell provides new features that help users work more efficiently, including theme support, better customizations, and plug-in support. 

  • Learn how to install Zsh on Linux from the Link

What are the Basic Differences Between the zsh and Bash?

There are many differences between both the zsh and the bash shells. Still, the most noticeable differences are tabulated in the below-mentioned table:

The bash is the advanced version of the Bourne ShellThe zsh is the extended version of the bash shell with many new features
The prompt uses the backslash escapesThe prompt uses the percentage escapes
It doesn’t have the plug-in and theme customization optionsIt supports different plug-ins and theme customization options
It has a huge number of usersIt has fewer users as compared to the bash
It supports auto-completion but with least functionality.It supports the auto-completion of the commands
The functionality is configurableThe functionality is not configurable
The character of “#” is used to commentThe character of “#” is not used as a comment
It is unable to support the split screen featureIt supports the split screen feature

How to Switch Between the zsh and bash Shell?

The Linux distribution allows users to use different shells. The syntax of the command to switch between various shells is provided below: 

$ exec [shell name]

Check the Current Shell

To understand the above general syntax, we will switch from the zsh to bash in Ubuntu, but before that, we will find our current shell:

ps -p $$

Switch the Shell From zsh to Bash

Now, we will switch to the bash shell:

$ exec bash

We are switched to bash. 

Similarly, you can use the “exec zsh”; the terminal will be redirected to the “ZShell”.


There are differences between bash and the zsh shell, including the support of plug-ins and customization of themes. The bash support comes by default, whereas the zsh shell can be installed by running simple commands. This post has briefly explained the difference between zsh and Bash in Linux.