September, 2014


grmlzshrc - Grml's zsh setup


zsh [options]...


The Grml project provides a fairly exhaustive interactive setup (referred to as grmlzshrc throughout this document) for the amazing unix shell zsh ( This is the reference manual for that setup.

To use grmlzshrc, you need at least version 3.1.7 of zsh (although not all features are enabled in every version).

grmlzshrc behaves differently depending on which user loads it. For the root user (EUID == 0) only a subset of features is loaded by default. This behaviour can be altered by setting the GRML_ALWAYS_LOAD_ALL STARTUP VARIABLE (see below).

Users may want to keep an up-to-date version of the setup (possibly from the git-sources) in ~/.zshrc. If that happens on a system where the global zshrc is also a grmlzshrc (but possibly an older one), you can inhibit loading the global version by doing: \

echo setopt no_global_rcs >> ~/.zshenv

Note, that this will disable ANY global files, except for the global zshenv file.


Some of the behaviour of grmlzshrc can be altered by setting certain shell variables. These may be set temporarily when starting zsh like this: \


Or by setting them permanently in zshrc.pre (See AUXILIARY FILES below).

Deprecated. Use GRML_DISPLAY_BATTERY instead.

A non zero value activates a handler, which is called when a command can not be found. The handler is defined by GRML_ZSH_CNF_HANDLER (see below).

If set to yes (the default), the setup will enable zsh's completion caching mechanism, with the caching data being placed into $GRML_COMP_CACHE_DIR.

This defines where zsh's completion caching data will be placed, if $GRML_COMP_CACHING is active. The default is ${ZDOTDIR:-$HOME}/.cache. The setup will ensure the directory exists before attempting to use it.

If set to a value greater than zero, grmlzshrc will put the battery status into the right hand side interactive prompt. Supported OSes are GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Darwin.

This variable contains the handler to be used by COMMAND_NOT_FOUND (see above) and defaults to "/usr/share/command-not-found/command-not-found".

A non-empty value inhibits the definition of apt-specific short aliases, such as ag, agi, ati etc.

A non-empty value inhibits the definition of 2-letter aliases such as da. ls, ll, la and other common ls-related aliases are exempt from this, as are the aliases inhibited by GRML_NO_APT_ALIASES.

Set this to zero to remove items in zsh config, which do not work in grml-small.

Where zsh saves the history. Default: ${HOME}/.zsh_history.

Number of commands to be kept in the history. On a Grml-CD this defaults to 500, on a hard disk installation to 5000.

Sets the frequency in seconds for zsh to check for new mail. Defaults to 30. A value of zero turns off checking.

Non zero values deactivate automatic correction of commands.

If set to zero (default), allows selection from a menu, if there are at least five possible options of completion.

A non zero value disables precmd and preexec commands. These are functions that are run before every command (setting xterm/screen titles etc.).

Show time (user, system and cpu) used by external commands, if they run longer than the defined number of seconds (default: 5).

Number of commands to be stored in ${HISTFILE}. Defaults to 1000 on a Grml-CD and to 10000 on an installation on hard disk.

As in tcsh(1) an array of login/logout events to be reported by the shell builtin "log". For details see zshparam(1). Defaults to (notme root).

Import "/etc/default/locale", if set to zero (default).

A non zero value causes shell functions to be profiled. The results can be obtained with the zprof builtin command (see zshmodules(1) for details).

Specifies the location of the completion dump file. Default: $HOME/.zcompdump.


Styles are a context sensitive configuration mechanism included with zsh. The shell uses it extensively in sub-systems like the completion and the VCS info system. It lives outside of the classic shell variable namespace, so it avoids polluting it. New functionality in grml's zshrc will likely use styles instead of variables. Some features of the setup (like the directory stack handling) already use styles. Those styles are documented with the specific features. This section documents more general styles.

Context: :grml:completion:compinit

This context revolves around the zshrc's compinit function call, that initialises zsh's function based completion system.

This style allows the injection of arguments to the command line that is used to run compinit. It is a list style and its default is the empty list. Using this style, it's possible to add -i to compinit in order to disable compaudit. \
zstyle ':grml:completion:compinit' arguments -i
\ Only do this, if you know what sort of security checks are disabled if compaudit is not active and if that's acceptable with your specific setup. \ This style has to be set at the point that Grml's zshrc runs compinit. A possible way to achieve this is to set it in ~/.zshrc.pre (see AUXILIARY FILES below for details).


This is an in depth description of non-standard features implemented by grmlzshrc.


The dirstack in grmlzshrc has a persistent nature. It is stored into a file each time zsh's working directory is changed. That file can be configured via the DIRSTACKFILE variable and it defaults to ~/.zdirs. The DIRSTACKSIZE variable defaults to 20 in this setup.

The DIRSTACKFILE is loaded each time zsh starts, therefore freshly started zshs inherit the dirstack of the zsh that most recently updated DIRSTACKFILE.

If you would like to disable the persistent dirstack feature altogether, you can do that by setting the boolean enable style to false in the right context (the default is true): \

zstyle ':grml:chpwd:dirstack' enable false

It is possible to apply a filter to the names of directories that will be committed to the persistent dirstack file. There are two ways to configure this filter: A general function based filter and a pattern based filter. Both are setup via styles in the ':grml:chpwd:dirstack' context.

To use a function based filter set the filter style for that context to the name of a function to call every time a directory name is to be added to the persistent dirstack. If the function's return value signals success (ie. return value "0"), the directory name is filtered out and not added to the persistent stack. Example: \

function my_dirstack_filter() { [[ $1 == /tmp(|/*) ]] }
zstyle ':grml:chpwd:dirstack' filter my_dirstack_filter

The pattern based filter uses a list of patterns passed to the exclude style in the aforementioned context. Each pattern is tested and the first that matches will keep the directory name from being added to the persistent stack. If none of the patterns matches, the name is added. example: \

zstyle ':grml:chpwd:dirstack' exclude "/tmp(|/*)" "$HOME/tmp(|/*)"

The function based filter is more general, the pattern based filter easier to set up. If both filter variants are used at the same time, the function based filter will be executed before the pattern based one.

If you would like to apply your filters while loading the persistent dirstack file, set the filter-on-load boolean style (the default is false): \

zstyle ':grml:chpwd:dirstack' filter-on-load true

Setting the filter-on-load and enable styles needs to be done in ".zshrc.pre" because the styles need to be set when the main setup is executing! The other styles do not have this limitation, but enabling the system as well as the initial filtering will obviously be done using settings and filters that are configured at that point.

With respect to filter-on-load, the rule of thumb is: If you want to filter on load, setup everything in ".zshrc.pre" otherwise ".zshrc.local" works just as well.


If you need to perform certain actions each time you enter certain directory-trees, this is the feature you are looking for.


To initialise the system, you need to call the function `chpwd_profiles' at some point in your `zshrc.local'; preferably after you configured the system. The configuration of the system is described further below.

If you need to do initialisations the first time `chpwd_profiles' is called (which should be in your configuration file), you can do that in a function called "chpwd_profiles_init". That function needs to be defined before `chpwd_profiles' is called for this to work.

During the first call of `chpwd_profiles' (and therefore all its profile functions) the parameter `$CHPWD_PROFILES_INIT' exists and is set to `1'. In all other cases, the parameter does not exist at all.

Styles and Profile-names

To store its configuration, the system uses functions and styles (zsh's context sensitive configuration system), such as this:


zstyle ':chpwd:profiles:/usr/src/grml(|/|/*)'   profile grml
zstyle ':chpwd:profiles:/usr/src/debian(|/|/*)' profile debian

When that's done and you enter a directory that matches the pattern in the third part of the context, a function called chpwd_profile_grml, for example, is called (if it exists).

If no pattern matches (read: no profile is detected) the profile is set to 'default', which means chpwd_profile_default is attempted to be called.

A word about the context (the ':chpwd:profiles:*' stuff in the zstyle command) which is used: The third part in the context is matched against ${PWD}. That's why using a pattern such as /foo/bar(|/|/*) makes sense. Because that way the profile is detected for all these values of ${PWD}: \


So, if you want to make double damn sure a profile works in /foo/bar and everywhere deeper in that tree, just use (|/|/*) and be happy.

The name of the detected profile will be available in a variable called 'profile' in your functions. You don't need to do anything, it'll just be there.

Controlling Profile Execution

During its initialisation run, the system creates a parameter $CHPWD_PROFILE, which is set to the profile that was is currently active (the default value is "default"). That way you can avoid running code for a profile that is already active, by running code such as the following at the start of your function: \

function chpwd_profile_grml() {
    [[ ${profile} == ${CHPWD_PROFILE} ]] && return 1

If you know you are going to do that all the time for each and every directory-profile function you are ever going to write, you may also set the `re-execute' style to `false' (which only defaults to `true' for backwards compatibility), like this: \

  zstyle ':chpwd:profiles:*' re-execute false

Signaling availabily/profile changes

If you use this feature and need to know whether it is active in your current shell, there are several ways to do that. Here are two simple ways:

a) If knowing if the profiles feature is active when zsh starts is good enough for you, you can use the following snippet:

(( ${+functions[chpwd_profiles]} )) && print "directory profiles active"

b) If that is not good enough, and you would prefer to be notified whenever a profile changes, you can solve that by making sure you start every profile function you create like this:

function chpwd_profile_myprofilename() { [[ ${profile} == ${CHPWD_PROFILE} ]] && return 1 print "chpwd(): Switching to profile: $profile" ... }

That makes sure you only get notified if a profile is changed, not everytime you change directory. (To avoid this, you may also set the newer `re-execute' style like described further above instead of the test on top of the function.

Leaving Profiles

When the system switches from one profile to another, it executes a function named "chpwd_leave_profile_<PREVIOUS-PROFILE-NAME>()" before calling the profile-function for the new profile.

Version requirement

This feature requires zsh 4.3.3 or newer.


The accept-line wiget is the one that is taking action when the return key is hit. grmlzshrc uses a wrapper around that widget, which adds new functionality.

This wrapper is configured via styles. That means, you issue commands, that look like: \

zstyle 'context' style value

The context namespace, that we are using is 'acceptline'. That means, the actual context for your commands look like: ':acceptline:<subcontext>'.

Where <subcontext> is one of: default, normal, force, misc or empty.

Recognized Contexts

This is the value, the context is initialized with. The compwarnfmt and //rehash styles are looked up in this context.

If the first word in the command line is either a command, alias, function, builtin or reserved word, you are in this context.

This is the context, that is used if you hit enter again, after being warned about the existence of a _completion for the non-existing command you entered.

This is the context, you are in if the command line is empty or only consists of whitespace.

This context is in effect, if you entered something that does not match any of the above. (e.g.: variable assignments).

Available Styles

If you set this style to true, the warning about non existent commands, for which completions exist will not be issued. (Default: false)

The message, that is displayed to warn about the _completion issue. (default: '%c will not execute and completion %f exists.') '%c' is replaced by the command name, '%f' by the completion's name.

If this is set, we'll force rehashing, if appropriate. (Defaults to true in grmlzshrc).

This can be a list of wigdets to call in a given context. If you need a specific order for these to be called, name them accordingly. The default value is an empty list.

The name of a widget, that is called after the widgets from 'actions'. By default, this will be '.accept-line' (which is the built-in accept-line widget).

If true in the current context, call the widget in the 'default_action' style. (The default is true in all contexts.)


The grmlzshrc now supplies three prompt themes compatible with zsh's promptinit system. The three themes are called grml, grml-large and grml-chroot.

By default, grml is used, unless $GRMLPROMPT is set to a value larger than zero, in which case grml-large is used. Lastly, if $GRML_CHROOT is non-empty, grml-chroot is used.

As usual, with promptinit themes, the user may switch to a different theme using the prompt utility: \

    prompt grml-large

That will use the grml-large prompt theme.

The themes are highly customisable. The main source of documentation about customisation is the main grml theme's doc-string, that is available via the following command: \

    prompt -h grml

The other themes also come with doc-strings, but the main theme's is the canonical reference about all of them.

This feature requires version 4.3.7 of the shell. Older versions will use the classic grml prompt as a fallback.

A note to people who like customisation: If you are not using a prompt theme for your customisation, but you're either statically setting $PS1 (or $PROMPT) or you're constructing one of those variables in zsh's \`precmd()' function, make sure you are turning the zsh's prompt theme system off before doing so. A correct example customisation could look like this: \

    # Turn the prompt system off:
    prompt off
    # Customise the prompt yourself:
    PS1='%~ %# '

You also add your own tokens by using the \`grml_theme_add_token()' function. Call the function without arguments for detailed documentation about that procedure.


grmlzshrc sets screen's hardstatus lines to the currently running command or 'zsh' if the shell is idling at its prompt. If the current working directory is inside a repository unter version control, screen status is set to: 'zsh: <repository name>' via zsh's vcs_info.


If you got commands you consider important enough to be included in every shell's history, you can put them into $GRML_IMPORTANT_COMMANDS (which defaults for backward compatibility to ~/.important_commands) and they will be available via the usual history lookup widgets.



grmlzshrc sets some environment variables, which influence the behaviour of applications.

Set to "yes". Some applications read this to learn about properties of the terminal they are running in.

If not already set, sets the default editor. Falls back to vi(1), if vim(1) is not available.

Some environment variables that add colour support to less(1) for viewing man pages. See termcap(5) for details.

The mailbox file for the current user is set to /var/mail/$USER, if not already set otherwise.

Set less(1) as default pager, if not already set to something different.


Apart from zsh's default options, grmlzshrc sets some options that change the behaviour of zsh. Options that change Z-shell's default settings are marked by <grml>. But note, that zsh's defaults vary depending on its emulation mode (csh, ksh, sh, or zsh). For details, see zshoptions(1).

Zsh sessions, that use grmlzshrc, will append their history list to the history file, rather than replace it. Thus, multiple parallel zsh sessions will all have the new entries from their history lists added to the history file, in the order that they exit. The file will still be periodically re-written to trim it when the number of lines grows 20% beyond the value specified by $SAVEHIST.

auto_cd <grml>
If a command is issued that can't be executed as a normal command, and the command is the name of a directory, perform the cd command to that directory.

auto_pushd <grml>
Make cd push the old directory onto the directory stack.

completeinword <grml>
If the cursor is inside a word, completion is done from both ends; instead of moving the cursor to the end of the word first and starting from there.

extended_glob <grml>
Treat the '#', '~' and '^' characters as active globbing pattern characters.

extended_history <grml>
Save each command's beginning timestamp (in seconds since the epoch) and the duration (in seconds) to the history file.

Whenever a command completion is attempted, make sure the entire command path is hashed first. This makes the first completion slower.

histignorealldups <grml>
If a new command line being added to the history list duplicates an older one, the older command is removed from the list, even if it is not the previous event.

histignorespace <grml>
Remove command lines from the history list when the first character on the line is a space, or when one of the expanded aliases contains a leading space. Note that the command lingers in the internal history until the next command is entered before it vanishes.

longlistjobs <grml>
List jobs in long format by default.

nobeep <grml>
Avoid to beep on errors in zsh command line editing (zle).

A wildcard character never matches a leading '.'.

nohup <grml>
Do not send the hangup signal (HUP:1) to running jobs when the shell exits.

nonomatch <grml>
If a pattern for filename generation has no matches, do not print an error and leave it unchanged in the argument list. This also applies to file expansion of an initial `~' or `='.

Report the status of background jobs immediately, rather than waiting until just before printing a prompt.

pushd_ignore_dups <grml>
Don't push multiple copies of the same directory onto the directory stack.

share_history <grml>
As each line is added to the history file, it is checked to see if anything else was written out by another shell, and if so it is included in the history of the current shell too. Using !-style history, the commands from the other sessions will not appear in the history list unless you explicitly type the "history" command. This option is activated for zsh versions >= 4, only.


Apart from zsh's default key bindings, grmlzshrc comes with its own set of key bindings. Note that bindings like ESC-e can also be typed as ALT-e on PC keyboards.

Edit the current command buffer in your favourite editor.

Deletes a word left of the cursor; seeing '/' as additional word separator.

Jump right after the first word.

Create directory under cursor or the selected area. To select an area press ctrl-@ and use the cursor. Use case: you type "mv abc ~/testa/testb/testc/" and remember that the directory does not exist yet -> press CTRL-xM and problem solved.

Searches the last occurrence of string before the cursor in the command history.

Display help on keybindings and zsh line editor. Press consecutively to page through content.

Brings a job, which got suspended with CTRL-z back to foreground.


To customise keybindings, you can just use zsh's bindkey utility. However, if you plan to use the `zle-line-init' or `zle-line-finish' hooks yourself, make sure you call the following functions in the respective hook:

  • zle-line-init: zle-smkx
  • zle-line-finish: zle-rmkx

This is required so the keybindings set up by grmlzshrc work. The reason for this is to turn the terminal into the right mode while zsh's line editor (zle) is running. This enables us to query terminfo about escape sequences for special keys and thus simplify and generalise our keybinding section.


grmlzshrc comes with a wide array of defined shell functions to ease the user's life.

If 915resolution is available, issues a warning to the user to run it instead to modify the resolution on intel graphics chipsets.

Lists files in current directory, which have been accessed within the last N days. N is an integer to be passed as first and only argument. If no argument is specified N is set to 1.

Lists processes matching given pattern.

Login on the host provided as argument using autossh. Then reattach a GNU screen session if a detached session is around or detach a currently attached screen or else start a new screen. This is especially useful for roadwarriors using GNU screen and ssh.

Simple backup management of a file or directory using standard unix programs. The target file name is the original name plus a time stamp attached. Symlinks and file attributes like mode, ownership and timestamps are preserved.

If the original cdrecord is not installed, issues a warning to the user to use the wodim binary instead. Wodim is the debian fork of Joerg Schillings cdrecord.

Creates a temporary directory using mktemp. Then changes current working directory to it.

Lists files in current directory, which have been changed within the last N days. N is an integer to be passed as first and only argument. If no argument is specified N is set to 1.

Returns true if given command exists either as program, function, alias, builtin or reserved word. If the option -c is given, only returns true, if command is a program.

Changes directory to $HOME on first invocation of zsh. This is necessary on Grml systems with autologin.

Changes current directory to the one supplied by argument and lists the files in it, including file names starting with ".".

Shows the changelog of given package in $PAGER.

Shows the copyright of given package in $PAGER.

Tells the user to use grml-debootstrap, if she wants to install debian to harddisk.

A trick from $LINUX-KERNELSOURCE/Documentation/power/swsusp.txt. It brings back interactive responsiveness after suspend, when the system is swapping heavily.

Shows the NEWS file for the given package in $PAGER.

Edit given alias.

Edit given shell function.

Reloads an autoloadable shell function (See autoload in zshbuiltins(1)).

Toggles between coloured and uncoloured formats in vcs_info configuration. This is useful with prompts that break if colour codes are in vcs_info format expansions (like the `clint' prompt and every other prompt that uses %v to expand the contents of `$vcs_into_msg_0_'). If you are using customised vcs_info formats, you shouldn't be using this function, since it will set all formats to grml's default values (either coloured or plain) again.

Use GNU diff with options -ubwd for mercurial.

Displays diffstat between the revision given as argument and tip (no argument means last revision).

Outputs highlighted diff; needs highstring(1).

Returns true, if zsh version is equal or greater than 4, else false.

Returns true, if zsh version is equal or greater than 4.1, else false.

Returns true, if zsh version is equal or greater than 4.2, else false.

Returns true, if zsh version is equal or greater than 4.2.5, else false.

Returns true, if zsh version is equal or greater than 4.3, else false.

Returns true, if zsh version is equal or greater than 4.3.3, else false.

Returns true, if running on darwin, else false.

Returns true, if running on FreeBSD, else false.

Returns true, if running on a grml system, else false.

Returns true, if running on a grml system from a live cd, else false.

Returns true, if run on grml-small, else false.

Returns true, if running on Linux, else false.

Changes every occurrence of the string iso885915 or ISO885915 in environment variables to UTF-8.

Returns true, if running on OpenBSD, else false.

Returns true, if run within an utf environment, else false.

Creates directory including parent directories, if necessary. Then changes current working directory to it.

Lists files in current directory, which have been modified within the last N days. N is an integer to be passed as first and only argument. If no argument is specified N is set to 1.

A helper function for the "e" glob qualifier to list all files newer than a reference file. \ Example usages:
% NTREF=/reference/file
% ls -l *(e:nt:)
% # Inline:
% ls -l *(e:'nt /reference/file':)

Runs a command in zsh with profiling enabled (See startup variable ZSH_PROFILE_RC above).

Creates an alias with sudo prepended, if $EUID is not zero. Run "salias -h" for details. See also xunfunction() below.

Tries to uncompress/unpack given files with the appropriate programs. If an URI starting with https, http or ftp is provided simple-extract tries to download and then uncompress/unpack the file. The choice is made along the filename ending. simple-extract will not delete the original archive (even on .gz,.bz2 or .xz) unless you use the '-d' option.

Prints details of symlinks given as arguments.

Prints the SHA512, SHA256, SHA1 and MD5 digest of a x509 certificate. First and only parameter must be a file containing a certificate. Use /dev/stdin as file if you want to pipe a certificate to these functions.

Prints all information of a x509 certificate including the SHA512, SHA256, SHA1 and MD5 digests. First and only parameter must be a file containing a certificate. Use /dev/stdin as file if you want to pipe a certificate to this function.

ssl-cert-sha512(), ssl-cert-sha256(), ssl-cert-sha1(), ssl-cert-md5()
Prints the SHA512, SHA256, SHA1 respective MD5 digest of a x509 certificate. First and only parameter must be a file containing a certificate. Use /dev/stdin as file if you want to pipe a certificate to this function.

Start(), Restart(), Stop(), Force-Reload(), Reload()
Functions for controlling daemons.
Example usage:
% Restart ssh

Translates a word from german to english (-D) or vice versa (-E).

Shows upstreams changelog of a given package in $PAGER.

Works around the "print -l ${(u)foo}"-limitation on zsh older than 4.2.

Changes every occurrence of the string UTF-8 or utf-8 in environment variables to iso885915.

Wrapper for vim(1). It tries to set the title and hands vim the environment variable VIM_OPTIONS on the command line. So the user may define command line options, she always wants, in her .zshrc.local.

Searches the history for a given pattern and lists the results by date. The first argument is the search pattern. The second and third ones are optional and denote a search range (default: -100).

Tries to cat(1) file(s) given as parameter(s). Always returns true. See also xunfunction() below.

Tries to source the file(s) given as parameter(s). Always returns true. See zshbuiltins(1) for a detailed description of the source command. See also xunfunction() below.

Changes the title of xterm window from within screen(1). Run without arguments for details.

Removes the functions salias, xcat, xsource, xunfunction and zrcautoload.

Wrapper around the autoload builtin. Loads the definitions of functions from the file given as argument. Searches $fpath for the file. See also xunfunction() above.

Sources /etc/zsh/zshrc.local and ${HOME}/.zshrc.local. These are the files where own modifications should go. See also zshbuiltins(1) for a description of the source command.


grmlzshrc comes with a wide array of predefined aliases to ease the user's life. A few aliases (like those involving grep or ls) use the option --color=auto for colourizing output. That option is part of GNU implementations of these tools, and will only be used if such an implementation is detected.

acp (apt-cache policy)
With no arguments prints out the priorities of each source. If a package name is given, it displays detailed information about the priority selection of the package.

acs (apt search)
Searches debian package lists for the regular expression provided as argument. The search includes package names and descriptions. Prints out name and short description of matching packages.

acsh (apt show)
Shows the package records for the packages provided as arguments.

adg (apt dist-upgrade)
Performs an upgrade of all installed packages. Also tries to automatically handle changing dependencies with new versions of packages. As this may change the install status of (or even remove) installed packages, it is potentially dangerous to use dist-upgrade; invoked by sudo, if necessary.

ag (apt upgrade)
Downloads and installs the newest versions of all packages currently installed on the system. Under no circumstances are currently installed packages removed, or packages not already installed retrieved and installed. New versions of currently installed packages that cannot be upgraded without changing the install status of another package will be left at their current version. An update must be performed first (see au below); run by sudo, if necessary.

agi (apt install)
Downloads and installs or upgrades the packages given on the command line. If a hyphen is appended to the package name, the identified package will be removed if it is installed. Similarly a plus sign can be used to designate a package to install. This may be useful to override decisions made by apt's conflict resolution system. A specific version of a package can be selected for installation by following the package name with an equals and the version of the package to select. This will cause that version to be located and selected for install. Alternatively a specific distribution can be selected by following the package name with a slash and the version of the distribution or the Archive name (stable, testing, unstable). Gets invoked by sudo, if user id is not 0.

ati (aptitude install)
Aptitude is a terminal-based package manager with a command line mode similar to apt (see agi above); invoked by sudo, if necessary.

au (apt update)
Resynchronizes the package index files from their sources. The indexes of available packages are fetched from the location(s) specified in /etc/apt/sources.list. An update should always be performed before an upgrade or dist-upgrade; run by sudo, if necessary.

da (du -sch)
Prints the summarized disk usage of the arguments as well as a grand total in human readable format.

dbp (dpkg-buildpackage)
Builds binary or source packages from sources (See: dpkg-buildpackage(1)).

debs-by-size (grep-status -FStatus -sInstalled-Size,Package -n "install ok installed" | paste -sd " \n" | sort -rn)
Prints installed Packages sorted by size (descending).

dir (ls -lSrah)
Lists files (including dot files) sorted by size (biggest last) in long and human readable output format.

ge (grep-excuses)
Searches the testing excuses files for a specific maintainer (See: grep-excuses(1)).

grep (grep --color=auto)
Shows grep output in nice colors, if available.

grml-version (cat /etc/grml_version)
Prints version of running grml.

hbp (hg-buildpackage)
Helper program to maintain Debian packages with mercurial.

http (python -m SimpleHTTPServer)
Basic HTTP server implemented in python. Listens on port 8000/tcp and serves current directory. Implements GET and HEAD methods.

insecscp (scp -o "StrictHostKeyChecking=no" -o "UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null")
scp with possible man-in-the-middle attack enabled. This is convenient, if the targets host key changes frequently, for example on virtualized test- or development-systems. To be used only inside trusted networks, of course.

insecssh (ssh -o "StrictHostKeyChecking=no" -o "UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null")
ssh with possible man-in-the-middle attack enabled (for an explanation see insecscp above).

help-zshglob (H-Glob())
Runs the function H-Glob() to expand or explain wildcards.

j (jobs -l)
Prints status of jobs in the current shell session in long format.

l (ls -l --color=auto)
Lists files in long output format with indicator for filetype appended to filename. If the terminal supports it, with colored output.

la (ls -la --color=auto)
Lists files in long colored output format. Including file names starting with ".".

lad (ls -d .*(/))
Lists the dot directories (not their contents) in current directory.

lh (ls -hAl --color=auto)
Lists files in long and human readable output format in nice colors, if available. Includes file names starting with "." except "." and "..".

ll (ls -l --color=auto)
Lists files in long colored output format.

llog ($PAGER /var/log/syslog)
Opens syslog in pager.

ls (ls -C --color=auto)
Lists directory, entries are listed by columns and an indicator for file type is appended to each file name. Additionally the output is colored, if the terminal supports it.

lsa (ls -a .*(.))
Lists dot files in current working directory.

lsbig (ls -flh *(.OL[1,10]))
Displays the ten biggest files (long and human readable output format).

lsd (ls -d *(/))
Shows directories.

lse (ls -d *(/^F))
Shows empty directories.

lsl (ls -l *(@))
Lists symbolic links in current directory.

lsnew (ls -rl *([1,10]))
Displays the ten newest files (long output format).

lsnewdir (ls -rthdl *(/om[1,10]) .*(D/om[1,10]))
Displays the ten newest directories and ten newest .directories.

lsold (ls -rtlh *([1,10]))
Displays the ten oldest files (long output format).

lsolddir (ls -rthdl *(/Om[1,10]) .*(D/Om[1,10]))
Displays the ten oldest directories and ten oldest .directories.

lss (ls -l *(s,S,t))
Lists files in current directory that have the setuid, setgid or sticky bit set.

lssmall (ls -Srl *(.oL[1,10]))
Displays the ten smallest files (long output format).

lsw (ls -ld *(R,W,X.^ND/))
Displays all files which are world readable and/or world writable and/or world executable (long output format).

lsx (ls -l *(*))
Lists only executable files.

mdstat (cat /proc/mdstat)
Lists all active md (i.e. linux software raid) devices with some information about them.

mq (hg -R $(readlink -f $(hg root)/.hg/patches))
Executes the commands on the versioned patch queue from current repository.

rmcdir ('cd ..; rmdir $OLDPWD || cd $OLDPWD)
rmdir current working directory

screen (screen -c file)
If invoking user is root, starts screen session with /etc/grml/screenrc as config file. If invoked by a regular user and users .screenc does not exist, starts screen with /etc/grml/screenrc_grml config if it exists, else fallbacks to /etc/grml/screenrc.

su (sudo su)
If user is running a Grml live system, don't ask for any password, if she wants a root shell.

term2iso (echo 'Setting terminal to iso mode' ; print -n '\e%@')
Sets mode from UTF-8 to ISO 2022 (See:

term2utf (echo 'Setting terminal to utf-8 mode'; print -n '\e%G')
Sets mode from ISO 2022 to UTF-8 (See:

tlog (tail -f /var/log/syslog)
Prints syslog continuously (See tail(1)).

up (aptitude update ; aptitude safe-upgrade)
Performs a system update followed by a system upgrade using aptitude; run by sudo, if necessary. See au and ag above.

url-quote (autoload -U url-quote-magic ; zle -N self-insert url-quote-magic)
After calling, characters of URLs as typed get automatically escaped, if necessary, to protect them from the shell.

$(uname -r)-reboot (kexec -l --initrd=/boot/initrd.img-"$(uname -r)" --command-line=\"$(cat /proc/cmdline)\" /boot/vmlinuz-"$(uname -r)")
Reboots using kexec(8) and thus reduces boot time by skipping hardware initialization of BIOS/firmware.

... (cd ../../)
Changes current directory two levels higher.


This is a set of files, that - if they exist - can be used to customize the behaviour of grmlzshrc.

Sourced at the very beginning of grmlzshrc. Among other things, it can be used to permantenly change grmlzshrc's STARTUP VARIABLES (see above): \
# show battery status in RPROMPT
# always load the complete setup, even for root

Sourced right before loading grmlzshrc is finished. There is a global version of this file (/etc/zsh/zshrc.local) which is sourced before the user-specific one.

Directory listing for persistent dirstack (see above).

List of commands, used by persistent history (see above).


On Debian systems ( - and possibly Ubuntu ( and similar systems - it is very easy to get grmlzshrc via grml's .deb repositories.

On non-debian systems, that is not an option, but all is not lost: \

% wget -O .zshrc

If you would also like to get separate function files (which you can put into your $fpath), you can browse and download them at:;a=tree;f=usr_share_grml/zsh;hb=HEAD


If you read grmlzshrc's code you may notice strange looking comments in it. These are there for a purpose. grml's zsh-refcard is automatically generated from the contents of the actual configuration file. However, we need a little extra information on which comments and what lines of code to take into account (and for what purpose).

Here is what they mean:

List of tags (comment types) used:

Next line contains an important alias, that should be included in the grml-zsh-refcard. (placement tag: @@INSERT-aliases@@)

Next line contains the beginning of an important function. (placement tag: @@INSERT-functions@@)

Next line contains an important variable. (placement tag: @@INSERT-variables@@)

Next line contains an important keybinding. (placement tag: @@INSERT-keybindings@@)

Hashed directories list generation: start: denotes the start of a list of 'hash -d' definitions. end: denotes its end. (placement tag: @@INSERT-hasheddirs@@)

Abbreviation expansion list generation: start: denotes the beginning of abbreviations. end: denotes their end. \ Lines within this section that end in '#d .*' provide extra documentation to be included in the refcard. (placement tag: @@INSERT-abbrev@@)

This tag allows you to manually generate refcard entries for code lines that are hard/impossible to parse. Example: \
#m# k ESC-h Call the run-help function
\ That would add a refcard entry in the keybindings table for 'ESC-h' with the given comment. \ So the syntax is: #m# <section> <argument> <comment>

This tag lets you insert entries to the 'other' hash. Generally, this should not be used. It is there for things that cannot be done easily in another way. (placement tag: @@INSERT-other-foobar@@)

All of these tags (except for m and o) take two arguments, the first within the tag, the other after the tag:

#<tag><section># <comment>

Where <section> is really just a number, which are defined by the @secmap array on top of ''. The reason for numbers instead of names is, that for the reader, the tag should not differ much from a regular comment. For zsh, it is a regular comment indeed. The numbers have got the following meanings:








So, the following will add an entry to the 'functions' table in the 'system' section, with a (hopefully) descriptive comment: \

#f1# Edit an alias via zle
edalias() {

\ It will then show up in the @@INSERT-aliases-system@@ replacement tag that can be found in ''. If the section number is omitted, the 'default' section is assumed. Furthermore, in '' @@INSERT-aliases@@ is exactly the same as @@INSERT-aliases-default@@. If you want a list of all aliases, for example, use @@INSERT-aliases-all@@.


If you want to help to improve grml's zsh setup, clone the grml-etc-core repository from \

% git clone git://

Make your changes, commit them; use 'git format-patch' to create a series of patches and send those to the following address via 'git send-email': \

Doing so makes sure the right people get your patches for review and possibly inclusion.


This manual page is the reference manual for grmlzshrc.

That means that in contrast to the existing refcard it should document every aspect of the setup.

This manual is currently not complete. If you want to help improving it, visit the following pages:

Contributions are highly welcome.


This manpage was written by Frank Terbeck <>, Joerg Woelke <>, Maurice McCarthy <> and Axel Beckert <>.


Copyright (c) 2009-2013 Grml project <>

This manpage is distributed under the terms of the GPL version 2.

Most parts of grml's zshrc are distributed under the terms of GPL v2, too, except for accept-line() which are distributed under the same conditions as zsh itself (which is BSD-like).