Perl Makefile M4 Shell
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This is GNU Stow, a symlink farm manager program which takes distinct packages of software and/or data located in separate directories on the filesystem, and makes them appear to be installed in the same place. For example, /usr/local/bin could contain symlinks to files within /usr/local/stow/emacs/bin, /usr/local/stow/perl/bin etc., and likewise recursively for any other subdirectories such as .../share, .../man, and so on.

This is particularly useful for keeping track of system-wide and per-user installations of software built from source, but can also facilitate a more controlled approach to management of configuration files in the user's home directory, especially when coupled with version control systems.

Stow is implemented as a combination of a Perl script providing a CLI interface, and a backend Perl module which does most of the work.

You can get the latest information about Stow from the home page:


Stow is free software, licensed under the GNU General Public License, which can be found in the file COPYING.


See for installation instructions.


Please do send comments, questions, and constructive criticism. The mailing lists and any other communication channels are detailed on the above home page.

Brief history

Stow was inspired by Carnegie Mellon's "Depot" program, but is substantially simpler. Whereas Depot requires database files to keep things in sync, Stow stores no extra state between runs, so there's no danger (as there is in Depot) of mangling directories when file hierarchies don't match the database. Also unlike Depot, Stow will never delete any files, directories, or links that appear in a Stow directory (e.g., /usr/local/stow/emacs), so it's always possible to rebuild the target tree (e.g., /usr/local).