Social Distancing Part 1 - Hello, Zsh!

This is what (I hope) will be a series of posts about what I’m doing to keep my mind occupied while practicing COVID-19 induced social distancing. When you work for a public library (but are closed to the public), just about everything slows to a crawl.

The writing is on the wall for Bash in macOS. It’s really old, and probably won’t be updated because of terms set forth in the GPL Version 3.1

(Read: Lawyers)

If you are sufficiently determined, you can upgrade to Bash 5 - but you’re on your own should you decide to go that route. The default shell in Catalina is now Zsh, and if you launch Bash on a Mac running 10.15, you’ll get this friendly message:2

The default interactive shell is now zsh. To update your account to use zsh, please run chsh -s /bin/zsh. For more details, please visit

In my case, a combination of Apple’s instructions, Armin’s book and a handful of Twitter conversations was enough to make it through this transition. My setup isn’t that complicated and making the move now means some of the privacy related changes in macOS will be easier to digest before I even encounter Catalina.3

Having my configuration backed up doesn’t hurt either.

  1. It’s licensed under the GPL Version 2, but the program itself is now at version 3.2. That’s not confusing at all.

  2. You may choose to suppress this warning using the command export BASH_SILENCE_DEPRECATION_WARNING=1 but honestly, doing that feels like fighting the old war.

  3. Backblaze, BBEdit, Terminal, and Transmit get Full Disk Access to preempt an avalanche of security dialogs.