Oh My Zsh

To anyone from a desktop, phone, or tablet background, the humble command line can appear intimidating, best left to sci-fi nerds in fallacious hacking movies. But as many of us know, there's no reason to be intimidated at all. The command line is often the best and simplest way to get certain tasks done, from editing documents to accessing remote servers. However, like KDE Plasma, its default configuration on many distributions can be a little austere, lacking modern shell features and a modern look. All of this can be solved by switching your terminal first to Zsh and then to its wonderful community-driven Oh My Zsh framework.

If you've not already switched, Z shell (Zsh) is best described as an extended version of Bash, the terminal most distributions use by default. When using Zsh, you won't have to relearn anything, because it works in exactly the same way as Bash, while providing easily learned additional features. There's no need to use cd, for example, because you can switch directories by typing their names. Zsh will also correct many typos automatically and more intelligently complete local and remote commands with a press of the Tab key. Paths and variables can be expanded from single letters and symbols, and history navigation is much cleverer. It's also more readily themable, which is something Bash has always struggled with.

Oh My Zsh and Zsh work together to make harnessing the power of Zsh easy and enjoyable.

There are many projects that have attempted to coax some creative design ingenuity out of Bash. Perhaps the best of these is Powerline, a set of Python scripts that augment the humble Bash prompt with a colorful array of symbols, contextual information, and modifiable layouts. It works well but always feels patched atop Bash rather than part of it. Even worse is when it breaks after a Python upgrade, or when you try to migrate your Powerline configuration to a new machine. A big part of Zsh is its modularity and plugin mechanism, and this is exactly what the terribly named Oh My Zsh has been built to take advantage of. It's a framework that can make Zsh look and feel much like Bash with Powerline, but it does so far more elegantly while also offering dozens more themes and options.

Oh My Zsh is easily installed and configured via the same .zsh configuration file you use for Zsh. The installer will even make all the necessary additions to get started quickly. All you often need to do is download and install an accompanying theme. Installation for everything with Oh My Zsh is usually via a simple git command and a good theme to start with is called Powerlevel10k. Not only does it look fantastic, but it also includes its own configuration executable. This asks you all kinds of questions about what you'd like to appear and where, alongside previews of how the changes will affect your command line. It allows you to automatically install whatever Zsh plugins are required to get exactly the result you want and far surpasses the capabilities of Powerline. It works best when combined with a few Oh My Zsh plugins, of which there are hundreds, including various version control status updates, many command aliases and autocompletion profiles, Vim modes, and a Kubernetes prompt. This is what makes Zsh so powerful – it's still easy to use, but it's also easy to expand and fit your exact requirements.

Project Website

The Powerlevel10k theme even includes its own binary to help with command-line configuration.

Strategy FPS


There are quite a few decent open source online multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) games for Linux, such as Red Eclipse and Warsow. One particularly interesting example is an older game called Tremulous, which combines twitchy and instinctive combat with real-time strategy elements. Players are either humans or aliens, and they can either attack the opposition directly or choose to stay closer to home and build up the local base. This base building is much like you'd find in a real-time strategy game, fueled by the number of "frags" your whole team can score. As your team progresses, more options are unlocked, and theoretically your shooters have a stronger advantage. Tremulous hasn't been updated for many years, but its unique gameplay, and even map compatibility, has been transplanted into another game engine and reincarnated as a new game called Unvanquished.

Unvanquished is built from scratch using the Daemon game engine, an engine itself forked from the OpenWolf Engine. Despite the significant challenge of re-engineering the original gameplay, Unvanquished offers a bona fide Tremulous experience encased within beautiful, shaded, high frame rate graphics. The real achievement is that this conversion includes proper open-sourced assets, which is itself the result of a process that started in 2015 with the development of asset management tools. This means the engine, the game code, the graphics, the textures, the sounds, and the music are all free with a capital F, which is both highly unusual and highly commendable. It means game developers have a huge pool of first-class content that they can use when building their own games or when creating any kind of media. And of course, we also have the game, which is itself a wonderful multiplayer creation that combines some of the best elements of both FPSs and real-time strategy.

Project Website

If you've always wanted to play more of a support role in an FPS game, Unvanquished is the game for you.

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