AX-ZSH: Alex' Modular ZSH Configuration
AX-ZSH is a modular configuration system for the Z shell (ZSH). It provides sane defaults and is extendable by plugins.
AX-ZSH integrates well with Powerlevel10k and other extensions, even plugins of OhMyZsh, see below.
To install AX-ZSH, either download a source archive or use Git to clone it.
Afterwards use the
install.sh script inside of the source directory to set
The homepage of AX-ZSH can be found at GitHub: https://github.com/alexbarton/ax-zsh.
Installing AX-ZSH is a two-step process:
- Clone or copy the source files into
- Run the
install.sh script creates symbolic links for
~/.zlogout (don't worry, already existing files are backed
Then close all running ZSH sessions and restart them to activate AX-ZSH. And maybe change your default shell to ZSH if you haven't already?
For example like this:
# Set new default shell chsh -s $(command -v zsh) # Replace running shell with a ZSH login shell exec $(command -v zsh) -l
Installation using Git
When using Git, the preferred method, it is best to directly clone the AX-ZSH
repository into the
~/.axzsh directory and call
install.sh from this
git clone https://github.com/alexbarton/ax-zsh.git ~/.axzsh ~/.axzsh/install.sh
Installation without Git
Note: If you do not install AX-ZSH with Git, you will not be able to upgrade
itself afterwards with the integrated
axzsh upgrade command! Therefore this
method is not recommended for normal use!
curl -Lo ax-zsh-master.zip https://github.com/alexbarton/ax-zsh/archive/refs/heads/master.zip unzip ax-zsh-master.zip mv ax-zsh-master ~/.axzsh ~/.axzsh/install.sh
When you used Git to install AX-ZSH (and/or plugins), you can use the
command to upgrade AX-ZSH itself and external plugins like this:
AX-ZSH comes with a hopefully sane default configuration and can be extended using plugins. Different types of plugins are supported:
- Plugins shipped with AX-ZSH.
- Themes shipped with AX-ZSH.
- 3rd-party plugins:
- installed manually into
- stand-alone plugins stored on GitHub
- plugins of OhMyZsh from its GitHub repository
- 3rd-party themes:
- installed manually into
- some stand-alone themes stored on GitHub
Check whether all locally available "useful" plug-ins are activated
Most plugins can be enabled even when the commands they work with aren't available and won't do any harm. But to keep ZSH startup times low, you should only enable plugins that are useable on your local system and which you actually plan to use.
You can use the following command to let AX-ZSH scan the status of all locally available plugins:
It will summarize the status of all enabled plugins, and suggest to enable plugins which seem to make sense on the system and to disable enabled plugins that seem not to be supported (for example because of missing dependencies).
List enabled plugins
Run the following command to list all currently enabled plugins:
AX-ZSH comes with a sane "core ZSH configuration", but it can show its true strengths when enabling additional plugins for additional tools and commands that are available on your system and you want to use.
Different types of plugins are supported (see the introduction to the section "usage" above) which are differentiated by their identifier:
<name>: locally available plugin, either bundled with AX-ZSH itself, or installed manually (see below).
<repository>/<name>: stand-alone GitHub repository.
@ohmyzsh/<name>: OhMyZsh plugin from the OhMyZsh GitHub repository (see https://github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/tree/master/plugins).
You can enable one or more plugins like this:
axzshctl enable-plugin <identifier> [<identifier> […]]
Hint: Tab-completion works for sub-commands and already locally available plugin names!
# Enable some plugins bundled with AX-ZSH: axzshctl enable-plugin editor_select git ssh_autoadd # Enable the Powerlevel10k "theme plugin" from GitHub, see # <https://github.com/romkatv/powerlevel10k>: axzshctl enable-plugin romkatv/powerlevel10k # Enable the "fast-syntax-highlighting" plugin from GitHub, see # <https://github.com/zdharma-continuum/fast-syntax-highlighting>: axzshctl enable-plugin zdharma-continuum/fast-syntax-highlighting # Enable the Git and tmux plugins of OhMyZsh: axzshctl enable-plugin @ohmyzsh/git @ohmyzsh/tmux
Custom local plugins
You can link custom plugins stored in arbitrary directories using
by specifying the complete path name. Or you can place additional plugins into
$AXZSH/custom_plugins folder which is searched by the
In addition you can set the
AXZSH_PLUGIN_D variable (and
OhMyZsh) to specify additional plugin search directories.
Run the following command to disable a currently enabled plugin:
axzshctl disable-plugin <identifier> [<identifier> […]]
Hint: Tab-completion works for sub-commands and plugin names!
Update plugin cache
AX-ZSH uses a "plugin cache" to speedup ZSH start times. This cache is
automatically updated when using the
axzshctl sub-commands, for example when
enabling or disabling plugins, or when upgrading the AX-ZSH installation and
But you have to update the cache when manually installing plugins or during development of a own local plugin after updating its code!
Run the following command to update the AX-ZSH cache:
axzshctl --help to get a full list of a available sub-commands:
Integration with other projects
AX-ZSH supports Powerlevel10k out of the box, you just have to install it as a plugin:
axzshctl enable-plugin romkatv/powerlevel10k
Hint: Once the Powerlevel10k plugin theme is installed, you can use the
axzshctl set-theme command to enable it, like for any other installed
axzshctl set-theme powerlevel10k.
AX-ZSH & local ZSH configuration
are links to "AX-ZSH"-private files that can become overwritten when updating.
You can use the following files for local ZSH configuration:
AX-ZSH doesn't use
~/.zshenvin any way. So you can use this file for your own purposes (for example, to set up some environment variables that AX-ZSH relies on).
AX-ZSH reads the optional files
~/.zlogout.localafter its own core initialization files when present.
Expected to be already set:
Validated and/or set up by core plugins:
AXZSH– AX-ZSH installation directory
HOSTNAME(same as HOST, deprecated)
TMPDIR(set and always ends with a "/")
AX-ZSH Copyright (c) 2015-2021 Alexander Barton firstname.lastname@example.org