Upgrade Bash with Bash-It & Ble.sh

1060 words; 6 minute(s)

Table of Contents


For those who are not familiar, Bash is a Unix shell that is used as the default login shell for most Linux distributions. This shell and command processor should be familiar if you've used Linux (or older version of macOS) before.

However, bash is not the only option. There are numerous other shells that exist. Here are some popular examples:

While each shell has its differences, bash is POSIX compliant and the default for many Linux users. Because of this, I am going to explore a program called bash-it below that helps bash users increase the utility of their shell without installing a completely new shell.


First, if bash is not already installed on your system, you can download bash from GNU or use your package manager to install it.

For example, this is how you can install bash on Fedora Linux:

sudo dnf install bash

If you are not using bash as your default shell, use the chsh command to change your shell:


You should see a prompt like the one below. If the brackets ([]) contain bash already, you're done, and you can simply continue by hitting the Enter key.

If the brackets contain another shell path (e.g. =/usr/bin/zsh=), enter the path to the bash program on your system (it's most likely located at /usr/bin/bash).

Changing shell for <user>.
New shell [/usr/bin/bash]:

You must log out or restart the machine in order for the login shell to be refreshed. You can do it now or wait until you're finished customizing the shell.

sudo reboot now


As noted on the Bash-it repository:

Bash-it is a collection of community Bash commands and scripts for Bash 3.2+. (And a shameless ripoff of oh-my-zsh 😃)

Bash-it makes it easy to install plugins, set up aliases for common commands, and easily change the visual theme of your shell.


To install the framework, simply copy the repository files and use the install.sh script provided. If you want, you can (and should!) inspect the contents of the installation script before you run it.

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/Bash-it/bash-it.git ~/.bash_it

If you didn't restart your session after making bash the default, and are currently working within another shell, be sure to enter a bash session before using bash-it:



Bash-it contains a number of aliases for common commands to help improve efficiency in the terminal. To list all available options, use the following command:

bash-it show aliases

This will provide you a list that looks like the following text block. Within this screen, you will be able to see all available options and which ones are currently enabled.

Alias                Enabled?   Description
ag                   [ ]        the silver searcher (ag) aliases
ansible              [ ]        ansible abbreviations
apt                  [ ]        Apt and dpkg aliases for Ubuntu and Debian distros.
atom                 [ ]        Atom.io editor abbreviations
bash-it              [ ]        Aliases for the bash-it command (these aliases are automatically included with the "general" aliases)
bolt                 [ ]        puppet bolt aliases
bundler              [ ]        ruby bundler
clipboard            [ ]        xclip shortcuts
composer             [ ]        common composer abbreviations
curl                 [x]        Curl aliases for convenience.

To enable an alias, do:

bash-it enable alias  <alias name> [alias name]... -or- $ bash-it enable alias all

To disable an alias, do:

bash-it disable alias <alias name> [alias name]... -or- $ bash-it disable alias all


Similar to aliases, plugins are available with bash-it. You can find a complete list of plugins in the same way as aliases. Simply execute the following:

bash-it show plugins

You will see the following output showing enabled and disabled plugins:

Plugin               Enabled?   Description
alias-completion     [ ]
autojump             [ ]        Autojump configuration, see https://github.com/wting/autojump for more details
aws                  [ ]        AWS helper functions
base                 [x]        miscellaneous tools
basher               [ ]        initializes basher, the shell package manager
battery              [x]        display info about your battery charge level
blesh                [ ]        load ble.sh, the Bash line editor!
boot2docker          [ ]        Helpers to get Docker setup correctly for boot2docker
browser              [ ]        render commandline output in your browser

To enable a plugin, do:

bash-it enable plugin  <plugin name> [plugin name]... -or- $ bash-it enable plugin all

To disable a plugin, do:

bash-it disable plugin <plugin name> [plugin name]... -or- $ bash-it disable plugin all


There are quite a few pre-defined themes available with bash-it.

To list all themes:

ls ~/.bash_it/themes/

To use a new theme, you'll need to edit .bashrc and alter the BASH_IT_THEME variable to your desired theme. For example, I am using the zork theme.

nano ~/.bashrc
export BASH_IT_THEME='zork'

Once you save your changes, you just need to exit your terminal and create a new one in order to see your changes to the .bashrc file. You can also source the file to see changes, but I recommend starting a completely new shell instead.


One big feature I was missing in Bash that both zsh and fish have is an autosuggestion feature. To explain: as you type, an autosuggestion feature in the shell will offer suggestions in a lighter font color beyond the characters already typed. Once you see the command you want, you can click the right arrow and have the shell auto-complete that line for you.

Luckily, the Bash Line Editor (ble.sh) exists! This program provides a wonderful autosuggestions feature perfectly, among other features that I haven't tested yet.

In order to install ble.sh, execute the following:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/akinomyoga/ble.sh.git
make -C ble.sh install PREFIX=~/.local
echo 'source ~/.local/share/blesh/ble.sh' >> ~/.bashrc

Again, exit the terminal and open a new one in order to see the newly-configured shell.

Restart the Session

Finally, as mentioned above, you'll need to restart the session to ensure that your user is using bash by default.

You will also need to exit and re-open a shell (e.g., terminal or terminal tab) any time you make changes to the .bashrc file.

sudo reboot now