My terminal setup 2016

On by oxalorg

It’s a pain to remember and reconfigure my keyboard junkie setup every time I change systems, or re-install the OS.

So I’m writing my process down to make it easier to bootstrap and remember.

You can find my ~/dotfiles repository here.




My shell of choice is ‘zsh’.

sudo apt-get install zsh
chsh -s $(which zsh)

I avoid using frameworks for zsh since most of them are bloated, i.e. contain a lot of excessive functions and options.

I have a custom zsh cofiguration picked and parceled from several sources, and I use zgen plugin manager for minimal overhead.

zgen being extremely easy to install and setup, the whole process of configuring my zsh can be automated using this script:

if [ -e ~/.zshrc -o -L ~/.zshrc ]; then
        echo "Backing up existing .zshrc."
        mv ~/.zshrc ~/.zshrc.$(date +%F-%R).bak

if [ -d ~/.config/zsh -o -L ~/.config/zsh ]; then
        echo "Backing up zsh folder"
        mv ~/.config/zsh ~/.config/zsh.$(date +%F-%R).bak

echo "Soft linking zsh to ~/.config/zsh"
ln --symbolic -v ${DOTFILESDIR}/zsh ${HOME}/.config/

echo "Soft linking .zshrc to ~/.zshrc"
ln --symbolic -v ${HOME}/.config/zsh/.zshrc ${HOME}/

if ! [ -e ~/zgen/zgen.zsh -o -L ~/zgen/zgen.zsh ]; then
	cd ~
	git clone

echo "Now run 'source ~/.zshrc' to activate your settings."


I use 2 different terminal emulators to suit my needs.

‘Sakura’ is a lightweight, yet configurable terminal emulator with Gtk dependencies. I downloaded and set it as my default terminal using:

sudo apt-get install sakura
sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec 'sakura'
# if this doesn't work, run this too
# gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec-arg ""

I also installed and set up Guake to have a quick drop down terminal to handle quick one time commands and sometimes the music player.


In the above 2 terminal emulators, I almost always have a tmux (terminal-multiplexer) session open. Having the freedom to create and arrange multiple panes and windows is extremely useful.

I have a simple configuration present over in my dotfiles repo and actvating it is as simple as linking .tmux.conf to the ~/ $HOME directory.


I’m currently using 2 tools for some handy shell gymnastics.

‘z’: This handy tool keeps tracks of your ‘frecency (frequently+recently) used directories and helps you jump around.

There are many tools available which provide such functionality, like ‘autojmp’, ‘v’, ‘fasd’ etc. But I found ‘z’ to be straight to the point and easy to install. I am currently reading the autojmp source and might try it out later (python ftw!).

‘fzf’: This one is pretty handy. It’s a command line fuzzyfinder tool. It’s fast, easy to pipe into, and super easy to setup. It supports fuzzy completion for bash/zsh shell and thus can work with any command which is pretty handy imo. The reverse fuzzy search and integration with vim is a huge plus.

Apart from these, I keep expanding my toolset as and when necessary. I haven’t talked about vim or zsh configuration in details because that’s another story for another time!