I have been used to bash for years and always thought it was very good but after trying other alternatives I found out that there are more efficient ways to use the command line.
I would like to present here one of my favorite interpreter that is the fish shell. Fish stands for Friendly Interactive Shell and is yet another command line interpreter. Its goal is to be user friendly while being fast.
The major difference with other standards command line interpreters, is that fish is not POSIX and has some subtle differences. People behind fish think POSIX is not adapted for modern usage and decided to not follow it to invent a better, less error prone and more user friendly syntax.
To make the switch less painful, I will try to show the majors difference between the well known bash and give some tips on how to customize it.
You can install fish shell from the source but it is recommended to use your favorite package manager:
# .deb apt-get install fish # .rpm yum install fish # Arch pacman -S fish # Gentoo emerge fish # Void xbps-install fish-shell # Other I forgot # Read the fine manual :)
On your usual shell prompt, you can simply type:
If after some tries your are happy with it, you can set it as default by editing the /etc/passwd manually or by using the chsh command:
chsh -s /usr/bin/fish <your-username>
Here is a list useful daily tasks but using the fish syntax.
- Return code
$? doesn't exist, the status variable is what you are looking for:
fish$ true ; echo $status 0 fish$ false ; echo $status 1
- ;and, ;or
People from fish uses the and/or keyword instead of &&/||
fish$ true ; and echo sucess! sucess! fish$ false ; or echo failed! failed!
When you want to export variables with bash, you would use the export and = sign. Don't add any space in between otherwise it will not work! Lists are not well supported either.
With fish shell, the set built-in is used to declare variables command. With the -x parameter, the variabled is exported. fish supports lists very well and can be declared by using space between each element:
fish$ set -x PATH $PATH $HOME/bin /opt/toolchain/bin fish$ echo $PATH /usr/local/bin /bin /usr/bin /home/random/bin/ /opt/toolchain/bin fish$ set -x ARCH arm fish$ make menuconfig
More information about list can be found further.
- Command substitution
Under bash, my favorite flavor is using $(...) but think fish guys think that the $ character is confusing as it is already used for variable expansion, and is consequently not used:
$ echo My usernmae is (whoami) My usernmae is random
- Flow control
With fish, you have to use the end keyword that is common for every flow control mechanism unlike done, fi, esac with other shells. Also where fish adds a touch of user friendliness is that it takes care of all the indentation and coloring:
fish$ while true uptime sleep 1 end
Another if statement example:
$fish if true echo All good end All good
When using a function, parameters are stored in the argv list:
fish$ function hello echo Hello $argv end fish$ hello Hello fish$ hello world Hello world
I love the index range expansion feature!
fish$ function hello echo Hello $argv[1..-1] end fish$ hello tux world everyone Hello tux world everyone
Or if you want to say hello to everyone more personnaly:
fish$ function hello for who in $argv[1..-1] echo Hello $who end end fish$ hello tux world everyone Hello tux Hello world Hello everyone
- time command
It is sometime interesting to know how long it takes to run a command and time built-in bash implementation does the trick very well. In fish, there is no time command but the duration is stored in a variable:
fish$ sleep 1 fish$ echo $CMD_DURATION 1006
You could implement the time function yourself but you can also use some fish scripts from the communauty. fish_command_timer is my favoriyte, simply clone the repository and source the required file:
fish$ git clone https://github.com/jichu4n/fish-command-timer.git fish$ . ./fish-command-timer/fish_command_timer.fish fish$ ls fish-command-timer/ [ 0s101 | Dec 09 04:19PM ]
To make this permanent, you can add this your the fish configuration as explained later.
Of course, fish is highly configurable but again, differs a bit from other shells.
If you are looking for something similar to the .bashrc file, you can edit or create the .config/fish/config.fish. Here is for example how mine looks like:
set fish_greeting (uptime) . /home/random/sources/fish-command-timer/fish_command_timer.fish
Unlike the PS1 variable, the fish prompt is defined in the fish_prompt function:
fish$ function fish_prompt echo -n (whoami)@(cat /etc/hostname)\$" " end random@random-notebook$
- GIT prompt
Fish is able to show the git branch and repository status on the prompt. Just enable some built-in configurations by adding this in the fish configuration:
set __fish_git_prompt_showdirtystate 'yes' set __fish_git_prompt_showstashstate 'yes' set __fish_git_prompt_showuntrackedfiles 'yes' set __fish_git_prompt_showupstream 'yes' set __fish_git_prompt_color_branch yellow set __fish_git_prompt_color_upstream_ahead green set __fish_git_prompt_color_upstream_behind red
This will change your prompt as follow when inside a git repository:
fish (master) ➞
- Oh my fish
omf is a repository containing different skins for fish. Everyone is welcome to use it and share his themes. Make sure you have a decent version of fish to have a better user exeprience, unfortunately it doesn't work well on older LTS distriubtions.
Here is how you can install it and user my favorite theme:
fish$ curl -L http://get.oh-my.fish | fish # ... fish$ omf install fisk Installing theme fisk ✔ theme fisk successfully installed.  random@random-notebook ~ ➞
This would probably remind oh my zsh for the zshish!
Luckily some shortcuts you learned from bash are also available within fish. Here is the list of the one I use the most frequently:
- TAB: Enable autocompletion for almost everything :p
- CTRL+f: Accept fish autosuggestion
- CTRL+e: Go to the end of the command
- CTRL+a: Go to the beginning of the command (Anfang in German?)
- CTRL+p | up arrow : Go to the previous in history
- CTRL+n | down arrow: Go to the next in history
- < pattern > CTRL+p|CTRL+n: Look for < pattern > in hostory
Fish has a very nice out of the box configuration and most people will be very happy with it! If you like it and think it could improve your productivity, do not hesitate to have a deeper look at the introduction page and at the documentation for advanced usage.
It has the huge drawback that it is not POSIX but this is OK when using it only in interactive mode. Unfortunately I haven't written many fischripts and would be interesting to see if it really brings much performance improvement.
zsh is a nice alternative, it is very user friendly while respecting the standards. Those who spent a lot of time customizing their zsh will prefer sticking with it but fish worth having a look for your own culture!