Excellent Utilities: eza – replacement for ls

This is a series highlighting best-of-breed utilities. We cover a wide range of utilities including tools that boost your productivity, help you manage your workflow, and lots more besides. There’s a complete list of the tools in this series at the bottom of each page of this article.

One of the tools we routinely install on a fresh Linux system is exa. It’s a modern replacement for ls. Why the recommendation? Mainly it’s because exa offers more features and better defaults than the venerable ls command. exa uses colours to distinguish file types and metadata. The tool recognizes symlinks, extended attributes, and Git. It’s compact, fast, and a single binary.

Sadly, there hasn’t been a new release of exa since April 2021. Benjamin Sago, the lead developer of exa, hasn’t been contactable for many months, and there doesn’t appear to have been any code contributions to any of his GitHub repositories for more than a year.

If exa had been proprietary software, that would probably have been the end of exa. But exa was published under an open source license. And with open source software, there’s always the possibility that other developers passionate about the software fork the project. And that’s what happened in the guise of eza.

eza is a modern, maintained replacement for ls, built on exa. It has some new features such as hyperlink support. Let’s check out eza.


eza is tested on Ubuntu 23.10. Before installing any software, it’s good practice to perform an update.

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade

Our test system already has gpg installed. But if it’s not present on your system, issue the command:

$ sudo apt install gpg

We followed eza’s installation instructions.

$ sudo mkdir -p /etc/apt/keyrings
$ wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/eza-community/eza/main/deb.asc | sudo gpg --dearmor -o /etc/apt/keyrings/gierens.gpg
echo "deb [signed-by=/etc/apt/keyrings/gierens.gpg] http://deb.gierens.de stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/gierens.list

$ sudo chmod 644 /etc/apt/keyrings/gierens.gpg /etc/apt/sources.list.d/gierens.list
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install eza

eza package

Everything proceeded smoothly.

Next page: Page 2 – In Operation

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction and Installation
Page 2 – In Operation and Summary

Complete list of articles in this series:

Excellent Utilities
AES CryptEncrypt files using the Advanced Encryption Standard
AnanicyShell daemon created to manage processes’ IO and CPU priorities
brootNext gen tree explorer and customizable launcher
CerebroFast application launcher
cheat.shCommunity driven unified cheat sheet
CopyQAdvanced clipboard manager
crocSecurely transfer files and folders from the command-line
DeskreenLive streaming your desktop to a web browser
dufDisk usage utility with more polished presentation than the classic df
ezaA turbo-charged alternative to the venerable ls command
Extension ManagerBrowse, install and manage GNOME Shell Extensions
fdWonderful alternative to the venerable find
fkillKill processes quick and easy
fontpreviewQuickly search and preview fonts
horcruxFile splitter with encryption and redundancy
KoohaSimple screen recorder
KOReaderDocument viewer for a wide variety of file formats
ImagineA simple yet effective image optimization tool
LanguageToolStyle and grammar checker for 30+ languages
Liquid PromptAdaptive prompt for Bash & Zsh
lnavAdvanced log file viewer for the small-scale; great for troubleshooting
lsdLike exa, lsd is a turbo-charged alternative to ls
Mark TextSimple and elegant Markdown editor
McFlyNavigate through your bash shell history
mdlessFormatted and highlighted view of Markdown files
notiMonitors a command or process and triggers a notification
NushellFlexible cross-platform shell with a modern feel
nvitopGPU process management for NVIDIA graphics cards
OCRmyPDFAdd OCR text layer to scanned PDFs
Oh My ZshFramework to manage your Zsh configuration
PaperworkDesigned to simplify the management of your paperwork
pastelGenerate, analyze, convert and manipulate colors
PDF Mix ToolPerform common editing operations on PDF files
pecoSimple interactive filtering tool that's remarkably useful
ripgrepRecursively search directories for a regex pattern
RnoteSketch and take handwritten notes
scrcpyDisplay and control Android devices
StickySimulates the traditional “sticky note” style stationery on your desktop
tldrSimplified and community-driven man pages
tmuxA terminal multiplexer that offers a massive boost to your workflow
TuskAn unofficial Evernote client with bags of potential
UlauncherSublime application launcher
WatsonTrack the time spent on projects
Whoogle SearchSelf-hosted and privacy-focused metasearch engine
ZellijTerminal workspace with batteries included
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 months ago

Please – edit/update the link:

> One of the tools we routinely install on a fresh Linux system is exa.

7 months ago

exa is abandoned?

7 months ago
Reply to  NuGen

exa’s GitHub says the developer is unreachable. It may be the developer has abandoned exa, There is always the possibility he has just taken a complete break and may restart his project. it may be he is not even alive. Who knows.

Given the popularity of exa, there is always the chance that there will be other useful forks of exa besides eza.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Rust.