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#Dot File Manager This dot file manager is a tool to keep track of all or some of the dot files stored in a users home directory or sub directories. This is accomplished by putting all files that need to be tracked in a specific version controlled directory (~/dotfiles by default). Then symlinks are created in the users home directory to point to all of the files in the specified dot directory. For more information about this approach I suggest reading Using Git to Manage Your Dotfiles which gives a basic overview of the approach used here.

This repository consists of two parts.

Dot File Manager - This is a bash script named dotm that automates many of the tasks that revolve around managing the dot files.

My Configs - This consists of custom aliases, shell prompts, path modifications, .bashrc, .vimrc, etc. Basically all the settings/commands/etc that I would want on a server/desktop that I work on.

##DOTM (Dot File Manager - Bash Script)


  • Handles symlinks to files in sub directories of the dot file directory. This will match the directory structure in the users home directory. So ~/dotfiles/somedir/.somefile will have a link created in ~/somedir/.somefile.
  • Symlinks to directories in the dot files directory. Any directory name that ends in .lnk will have a corresponding symlink pointing to it from the home directory. So ~/dotfiles/somddir.lnk/ will have a symlink in ~/somdir.
  • Creates backups of files that exist in the users home directory. Places backup in a user defined directory (~/dotfiles/backup by default) and appends a timestamp to the filename
  • Automatically creates symlink for all files in the dot files directory (~/dotfiles by default) and sub directories except for special directories.
  • Custom directory (default ~/dotfiles/custom) to put files that won't be symlinked.
  • Bin directory (default ~/dotfiles/bin) to put scripts that won't be symlinked. Will be added to the path via .bashrc.
  • Source directory (default ~/dotfiles/source) to put source files that won't be symlinked. Will be sourced via .bashrc.
  • Option to ask before creating each symlink.
  • Option to create symlinks from a minimal list. Allowing for only some symlinks to be created on specific servers.
  • Updates dot files from remote repository on each run.
  • Command line options to change default settings (remote repository, dotfile directory, etc).

###Requirements There are no requirements to run this script other than having a standard bash prompt. DOTM will setup the directory and structure for you when it is run. Also, it is recommended to have git installed as dotm will use that to pull config files from another repository (this repo by default).

###Installation Dotm can be installed using my configs or as a bare structure for your own configs. If you choose to install with my configs you can still modify or add to them. It is your choice if you want to start with my customizations or a clean slate.

DOTM with My Configs

This command will download the dotm bash script and run it in bash.

bash <(wget -nv -O -

Anytime you want to pull changes and automatically create the symlinks just run the command ./dotm

DOTM with Bare Structure

The below command is very similar to the one used for downloading my dotm configs. The main difference is the last parameter (in bold) where we specify a specific repository other than the default (mine). This can be a brand new repository or even an invalid one.

If an invalid repository is given dotm won't checkout any files but it will still create the basic structure and save itself to the bin directory.

bash <(wget -nv -O - -r git://

Anytime you want to pull changes and automatically create the symlinks just run the command ~/dotfiles/bin/./dotm -r git:// or just dotm if you add it to the path. You can also change the default repo in the top of the dotm bash file if you would rather not specify the repository each time.

Note: Another option that allows using your own config files is to fork my repository. Then just add/modify remove whatever you please.

###Settings & Command Line Arguments Dotm has default settings that can be modified at the top of the bash script as well as command line arguments that can be used. dotm --help will output the following information

$ dotm --help

USAGE: dotm [-options] [-d /path/to/dotFileDirectory] [-r masterRepository]

    -d dotFileDirectory : The directory that contains the static files that will
                         be linked to from the ~ directory. If the 
                         dotFileDirectory is not specified then ~/dotfiles is
                         used by default.

    -r masterRepository : The url/path to the git repository that changes will 
                         be pushed and pulled from.

    -a : Will create symlinks for all files in the dot file directory without 
         asking questions. Special directories (bin, source, etc) will still be

    -m : Create symlinks using the minimal list

    -h : this help screen

Additionally, the following settings can be changed at the top of the dotm bash script


# comma delimited list for only creating a minimal set of symlinks

###Special Directories

Dotm will create symlinks in the users home directory pointing to all files in the dot files directory (default ~/dotfiles) except for the following directories. These directories have special rules which are defined below.

  • .hg, .git, - are ignored.
  • backup - Stores files that are overwritten when symlinks are created. When creating a symlink dotm will first check if there is a file that wil be overwritten in the users home directory. If a file will be overwritten it copies the files to the backup directory and then adds a timestamp to the filename.
  • custom - This directory is not processed by dotm. It is a good directory to store custom files that should not have symlinks.
  • bin - Used to store scripts that will be added to the path. This is added to the path via my .bashrc file.
  • source - Used to store files that will be sourced. The source files are processed in alphabetical order via my .bashrc file.

###Multiple dotFile Directories (private files)

dotm can also be used with multiple unique dotfile directories. For example, I like to keep a ~/dotfiles directory and a ~/dotfiles-private directory. This way I can put files that do not belong on github in another repository.

This can be accomplished by simply specifying the dotfile directory and repository as arguments to dotm with a command like the following

dotm -d ~/dotfiles-private  -r git://

To make the above command easier I like to setup an alias named dotmp in the source directory of the private repository.

###Automate via cron

I personally like to run dotm manually to keep my repository up to date. However, dotm could also be added to a cron job to keep everything up to date.

# Pull new changes from the default dot files repository and create symlinks. Then 
# push changes back to the default repository.
*/15 * * * * ~/dotfiles/bin/./dotm -a && git add . && git commit -m "Auto commit dot files" && git push

Note that the -a flag was used to keep dotm from asking questions. This could also be further enhanced to detect merge conflicts and send out an email.

Inspired by:


My configs






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