How to install bash shell in Alpine Linux

Posted on in Categories , , last updated August 2, 2017

How do I install bash shell in my Alpine Linux LXD (Linux Container) virtual machine (VM)?

Alpine Linux comes with BusyBox. It is described as, “The Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux.” BusyBox combines tiny versions of many common UNIX utilities into a single small executable including /bin/sh. By default, bash is not included with BusyBox and Alpine Linux.

How do install bash in Alpine Linux

It is easy to have bash installed but this does not mean the symlinks to busybox are gone. The syntax is:
# apk update
# apk upgrade
# apk add bash

Sample outputs:

(1/5) Installing ncurses-terminfo-base (6.0-r7)
(2/5) Installing ncurses-terminfo (6.0-r7)
(3/5) Installing ncurses-libs (6.0-r7)
(4/5) Installing readline (6.3.008-r5)
(5/5) Installing bash (4.3.48-r1)
Executing bash-4.3.48-r1.post-install
Executing busybox-1.26.2-r5.trigger
OK: 14 MiB in 21 packages

To install bash documentation, enter:
# apk add bash-doc
To install bash automatic command line completion install, run:
# apk add bash-completion
Sample session:

Fig.01:  How to get bash working on Alpine Linux
Fig.01: How to get bash working on Alpine Linux

To use bash as a shell just type bash:
$ bash
To login to alpine Linux LXD vm from host, enter:
$ lxc exec alpine-lxd-vm-name-here bash
To change root shell to bash, enter:
# vi /etc/passwd
Find user name and the default shell such as /bin/ash:

root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/ash 

Replace it with /bin/bash:

root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash

Customize bash shell

Here is a sample file:
cat ~/.bashrc
Sample outputs:

alias update='apk update && apk upgrade'
export HISTTIMEFORMAT="%d/%m/%y %T "
export PS1='\u@\h:\W \$ '
alias l='ls -CF'
alias la='ls -A'
alias ll='ls -alF'
alias ls='ls --color=auto'
source /etc/profile.d/bash_completion.sh

See Customize the bash shell environments wiki page for more info.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

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