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My OS X / Ubuntu dotfiles.
Shell VimL Perl Ruby Other
Branch: master

This branch is 31 commits ahead, 12 commits behind cowboy:master


My OSX / Ubuntu dotfiles.


BEFORE YOU BEGIN, MAKE A FORK OF THIS REPO ON YOUR OWN GITHUB ACCOUNT I change and break things. You don't want my changes. Plus, you want to be able to make this your own! Once you've forked successfully, you can run the following two lines:

export github_user=YOUR_GITHUB_USER_NAME

bash -c "$(curl -fsSL$github_user/dotfiles/master/bin/dotfiles)" && source ~/.bashrc

Since you'll be using the [dotfiles][dotfiles] command on subsequent runs, you'll only have to export the github_user variable for the initial install.

There's a lot of stuff that requires admin access via sudo, so be warned that you might need to enter your password here or there.

Major Differences from cowboy/dotfiles

  • copy/terminals/ contains a default "Solarized" themed terminal for both Terminal and iTerm. It's easier on the eyes, and works well with most CLI utilities. You can just run open ~/terminals to get a finder window and add from there.

  • init/ has some additional packages for personal taste

  • init/ contains additional casks for my personal workflow
  • init/ is a new set of casks specifically for android development
  • init/ is a new set of casks specifically for bigdata tools
  • init/ contains setup of nvm for node.js and io.js
  • init/ sets sensible OSX defaults for the mac OS, from
  • init/ just yells at you to remember to check the app store (for things not in casks)

  • source/ is a manual initialization of nvm. This is to avoid having nvm modify the .bashrc file.

  • source/ is the commacd from shyiko:


By default, this dotfiles installs a bash-friendly version of the Powerline prompt common in zsh. You can change this by echoing a new theme into the .dotfiles_prompt file in the home directory. You can also add more prompts to the prompts/ directory.

echo "YOURTHEME" > $HOME/.dotfiles_prompt

Available Themes:

powerline (default)
cowboy    (Ben Alman's Prompt)

About this project

First off, this is a fork of cowboy/dotfiles, and you should start there. The rest of this has to do with this specific dotfiles repo, the changes and differences, and why those changes were made.

Dear future self, you had good reasons at the time.

OSX USAGE You need to have XCode or, at the very minimum, the XCode Command Line Tools, which are available as a much smaller download.

The easiest way to install the XCode Command Line Tools in OSX 10.9+ is to open up a terminal, type xcode-select --install and follow the prompts.

UBUNTU USAGE you should at least update/upgrade APT with sudo apt-get -qq update && sudo apt-get -qq dist-upgrade first. Ben also has a ansible script if you want even more automation.


How the "dotfiles" command works

When [dotfiles][dotfiles] is run for the first time, it does a few things:

  1. In Ubuntu, Git is installed if necessary via APT (it's already there in OSX).
  2. This repo is cloned into your user directory, under ~/.dotfiles.
  3. Files in /copy are copied into ~/. (read more)
  4. Files in /link are symlinked into ~/. (read more)
  5. You are prompted to choose scripts in /init to be executed. The installer attempts to only select relevant scripts, based on the detected OS and the script filename.
  6. Your chosen init scripts are executed (in alphanumeric order, hence the funky names). (read more)

On subsequent runs, step 1 is skipped, step 2 just updates the already-existing repo, and step 5 remembers what you selected the last time. The other steps are the same.

Other subdirectories

  • The /backups directory gets created when necessary. Any files in ~/ that would have been overwritten by files in /copy or /link get backed up there.
  • The /bin directory contains executable shell scripts (including the [dotfiles][dotfiles] script) and symlinks to executable shell scripts. This directory is added to the path.
  • The /caches directory contains cached files, used by some scripts or functions.
  • The /conf directory just exists. If a config file doesn't need to go in ~/, reference it from the /conf directory.
  • The /source directory contains files that are sourced whenever a new shell is opened (in alphanumeric order, hence the funky names).
  • The /test directory contains unit tests for especially complicated bash functions.
  • The /vendor directory contains third-party libraries.

The "copy" step

Any file in the /copy subdirectory will be copied into ~/. Any file that needs to be modified with personal information (like copy/.gitconfig which contains an email address and private key) should be copied into ~/. Because the file you'll be editing is no longer in ~/.dotfiles, it's less likely to be accidentally committed into your public dotfiles repo.

The "link" step

Any file in the /link subdirectory gets symlinked into ~/ with ln -s. Edit one or the other, and you change the file in both places. Don't link files containing sensitive data, or you might accidentally commit that data! If you're linking a directory that might contain sensitive data (like ~/.ssh) add the sensitive files to your .gitignore file!

The "init" step

Scripts in the /init subdirectory will be executed. A whole bunch of things will be installed, but only if they aren't already.




(and 15+ years of accumulated crap)


Copyright (c) 2014 "Cowboy" Ben Alman
Licensed under the MIT license.

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