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How To Install Fish, The Friendly Interactive Shell, In Linux

By sk
Published: Updated: 20.2K views

Fish, acronym of friendly interactive shell, is a well equipped, smart and user-friendly shell for Unix-like systems. Fish comes with many significant features, such as auto-suggestions, syntax highlighting, searchable history (like CTRL+r in Bash), smart search functionality, glorious VGA color support, web based configuration, man page completions and more, out of the box. Just install it and start using it in no time. No extra configuration required or you don't have to install any extra add-ons/plug-ins! In this tutorial, let us discuss how to install and use fish shell in Linux.

Install Fish Shell On Linux

Even though fish is very user-friendly and feature-rich shell, it is not included in the default repositories of most Linux distributions. It is available in the official repositories of only a few Linux distributions such as Arch Linux, Gentoo, NixOS, and Ubuntu etc.

On Arch Linux and its derivatives, run the following command to install it.

$ sudo pacman -S fish

On CentOS 8 run the following as root:

# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/CentOS_8/shells:fish.repo
# yum install fish

On CentOS 7 run the following as root:

# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish:release:2/CentOS_7/shells:fish:release:2.repo
# yum install fish

On CentOS 6 run the following as root:

# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish:release:2/CentOS_6/shells:fish:release:2.repo
# yum install fish

On Debian 10 run the following:

$ echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:/fish/Debian_10/ /' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/shells:fish.list
$ curl -fsSL https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/Debian_10/Release.key | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/shells_fish.gpg > /dev/null
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install fish

On Debian 9 run the following as root:

# echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:/fish/Debian_9.0/ /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/shells:fish.list
# wget -nv https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/Debian_9.0/Release.key -O Release.key
# apt-key add - < Release.key
# apt-get update
# apt-get install fish

On Debian 8 run the following as root:

# echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:/fish/Debian_8.0/ /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/shells:fish.list
# wget -nv https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/Debian_8.0/Release.key -O Release.key
# apt-key add - < Release.key
# apt-get update
# apt-get install fish

On latest Fedora versions, run:

$ sudo df install fish

You can also install Fish from the openSUSE Build Service.

On Fedora 31 run the following as root:

# dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/Fedora_31/shells:fish.repo
# dnf install fish

On Fedora 30 run the following as root:

# dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/Fedora_30/shells:fish.repo
# dnf install fish

On openSUSE run the following as root:

# zypper install fish

On openSUSE Leap 15.2 run the following as root:

# zypper addrepo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/openSUSE_Leap_15.2/shells:fish.repo
# zypper refresh
# zypper install fish

On RHEL 7 run the following as root:

# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/RHEL_7/shells:fish.repo
# yum install fish

On RHEL 6 run the following as root:

# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/shells:fish/RHEL_6/shells:fish.repo
# yum install fish

On Ubuntu and its derivatives:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install fish

There is also an official PPA available for Ubuntu and its derivatives. Add the PPA and install Fish on Ubuntu as shown below.

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:fish-shell/release-3
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install fish

Fish Shell Usage

To switch to fish from your default shell, do:

$ fish
Welcome to fish, the friendly interactive shell

You can find the default fish configuration at ~/.config/fish/config.fish (similar to .bashrc). If it doesn't exist, just create it.

Auto suggestions

When I type a command, it automatically suggests a command in a light grey color. So, I had to type a first few letters of a Linux and hit tab key to complete the command.

Fish auto-suggestions

Fish auto-suggestions

If there are more possibilities, it will list them. You can select any command from the list by using UP/DOWN arrow keys. After choosing the command you want to run, just hit the right arrow key and press ENTER to run it.

Fish autosuggestions

Fish autosuggestions

No more CTRL+r! As you already know, we do reverse search by pressing ctrl+r keys to search for commands from history in Bash shell. But, it is not necessary in fish shell! Since it has auto-suggestions capability, just type first few letters of a command, and pick the command from the list that you already executed, from the history. Cool, yeah?

Smart search

We can also do smart search to find a specific command, file or directory. For example, I type the substring of a command, then hit the down arrow key to enter into smart search and again type a letter to pick the required command from the list.

Smart search in fish shell

Smart search in fish shell

Syntax highlighting

You will notice the syntax highlighting as you type a command. See the difference in below screenshots when I type the same command in Bash and fish shells.


No syntax highlighting in Bash shell

No syntax highlighting in Bash shell


Syntax highlighting in fish shell

Syntax highlighting in fish shell

As you see, "sudo" has been highlighted in fish shell. Also, it will display the invalid commands in red color by default.

Web based configuration

This is yet another cool feature of fish shell. We can can set our colors, change fish prompt, and view functions, variables, history, key bindings all from a web page.

To start the web configuration interface, just type:

Fish web-based configuration

Fish web-based configuration

Man page completions

Bash and other shells supports programmable completions, but only fish generates them automatically by parsing your installed man pages.

To do so, run:


Sample output would be:

Parsing man pages and writing completions to /home/sk/.local/share/fish/generated_completions/
 3435 / 3435 : zramctl.8.gz

Disable greetings

By default, fish greets you (Welcome to fish, the friendly interactive shell) at startup. If you don't want this greeting message, you can disable it. To do so, edit fish configuration file:

vi ~/.config/fish/config.fish

Add the following line:

set -g -x fish_greeting ''

Instead of disabling fish greeting, you can also set any custom greeting message.

set -g -x fish_greeting 'Welcome to OSTechNix'

Getting help

This one is another impressive feature that caught my attention. To open fish documentation page in your default web browser from Terminal, just type:


The official documentation will be opened in your default browser. Also, you can use man pages to display the help section of any command.

man fish

Set Fish as default shell

Liked it very much? Great! Just set it as default shell. To do so, use chsh command:

chsh -s /usr/bin/fish

Here, /usr/bin/fish is the path to the fish shell. If you don't know the correct path, the following command will help you.

which fish

Log out and log in back to use the new default shell.

Please remember that many shell scripts written for Bash may not fully compatible with fish.

To switch back to Bash, just run:


If you want Bash as your default shell permanently, run:

chsh -s /bin/bash

And, that's all for now folks. At this stage, you might have got a basic idea about fish shell usage. If you're looking for a Bash alternatives, fish might be a good option.

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