Is there a way to set fish as the default shell in ubuntu netbook remix? I put in my .bashrc to run fish, which works fine, but ubuntu recognizes it as fish running inside bash, which means that when I try to close the shell it warns me that a task is still running.

It doesn't pop up as a new application, so I can't pin it to my bar like a normal app.


You can set fish as your default shell by running

chsh -s `which fish`

To do so for another user, just add the username at the end of the command, and use sudo.

Then log out and back in.

(To set it back to bash, you need to use Fish syntax of course, like this chsh -s (which bash))

  • 3
    This doesn't seem to work for me. It doesn't give an error, but it just doesn't seem to work, even if I just open a new tab. Any thoughts?
    – Xodarap
    Feb 15 '11 at 3:05
  • 20
    You may have to log out & back in - I just tried it on a clean virtual machine & it worked.
    – ajmitch
    Feb 15 '11 at 3:09
  • 1
    How do you set it back?
    – knutole
    May 2 '14 at 12:36
  • 8
    Don't accidentally run this command with sudo or you'll change the root shell instead. Apr 24 '15 at 22:11
  • 7
    Or chsh -s (which fish) from inside fish.
    – Wtower
    Feb 26 '16 at 13:00
usermod -s /usr/bin/fish username

Must be run as root though.

This will change the shell permanently for the specified user.

  • 1
    I know it's not Ubuntu, but I wanted to comment: I was on CentOS, and I was getting an Authentication Failed error trying to change the shell with a non-root user and after extensively searching to try and figure it out, this was the only thing that worked. Thanks!
    – CWSpear
    Nov 3 '13 at 4:50
  • Yes it will work on most unix flavours that have usermod and fish for a shell, or change the shell to whatever flavour you wish
    – sweetfa
    Nov 11 '13 at 7:57
  • I did that and now the terminal doesn't start anymore. I get "There was an error creating the child process for this terminal", "Failed to execute child process "/usr/bin/fish" (Input/output error)". How can I undo that?
    – ptkato
    Dec 30 '15 at 21:42
  • Issue the same command as root but use bash instead of fish as the shell.
    – sweetfa
    Dec 31 '15 at 1:10

I just added the line fish to the end of my .bashrc.

  • 1
    That's the simplest and best solution, IMO ;) Nov 22 '16 at 4:32
  • 13
    Sorry, but its not efficient. :) It will load your fish shell but on top of your bash running. Mar 17 '17 at 10:13
  • 1
    Why does bash need to be efficient? @M.JunaidSalaat Jul 26 '17 at 19:34
  • 1
    From the first glance this seems like a dirty hack, but after a while of using my pc with fish set as the default shell with chsh I came back to this solution. Some programs assume that you're using bash and will crash because of using bash syntax on fish. So far I faced such problems in i3wm and matlab.
    – Naheel
    May 21 '18 at 14:36
  • @codenamejames: It's not that bash needs to be efficient, or that those few milliseconds matter, but it's a case of nothing to lose, so why not do it correct? Especially here where we are giving advice to other people. We should know better
    – swalog
    May 19 '19 at 14:45

I agree with the chsh is the correct answer. However:

If you run chsh and get error

/usr/local/bin/fish: non-standard shell

simply add the fish binary location to /etc/shells.

Found here.


In /etc/shells, add /usr/local/bin/fish:

# List of acceptable shells for chpass(1).
# Ftpd will not allow users to connect who are not using
# one of these shells.


Then chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish.

  • This works on MacOS Big Sur
    – TimNode
    Nov 17 '20 at 15:08
  • @dorian it says I can't edit the file. how can I edit it?
    – mesqueeb
    Nov 13 at 1:52

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