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... - Unix dot file management and sharing

Quick Install

> git clone git://
> .../... conf .../example.conf
> .../... update
> .../... install


NOTE: In the following lines, '> ' is a command line prompt, and '...' is the literal name of this program.

> ... help                  # Get help
> ... conf <path-or-url>    # Copy a ... conf from a file or url
> ... backup                # Backup your old dot files
> ... install               # Install your dot files
> ... list                  # List the source files that will install
> ... status                # Check status of your dot file repos
> ... conflicts             # Show dot file collisions
> ... update                # Update your dot files
> ... upgrade               # Do update and then install.
> ... remove                # Remove all installed dot files
> ... restore ~/.../backup/20101112-235947/


Unix dot files do not get the care they deserve. They quietly make our computers work comfortably for us, and yet we toss them about carelessly from machine to machine. We make a tweak here and an addition there, without keeping them all properly groomed and in sync.

DotDotDot (aka ...) is a toolset for managing sets of Unix dot files and configuring them for a given machine. The files usually come from various source control repositories (like git or svn). You can use other people's repositories, or make your own, or both. You can share your repositories with others on hosting sites like GitHub, and also keep you private settings in repositories on your private server.

DotDotDot takes these concerns into account:

  • You have multiple machines with varying requirements

  • Some of your setting are private

  • You might work as multiple users

DotDotDot is a great way to share settings on an agile development team at your work place. When you pair program, you know that you can expect common commands to work on a coworker's shell, but both of you can also have your personal settings too.

Also, with DotDotDot, you can easy try new groups of settings, and then restore to your previous settings when you are done.

DotDotDot installs a command line program called ... (yes, literally three period characters). It does all the actions you will need to keep your dot files a big happy family.


The ... comand requires the following standard Unix tools in your PATH:

  • perl (any old version since 1998)

  • cat

  • cp

  • cpio

  • rm

You'll need one or more collections of dot files. Here's a few:

  • git://

  • git://

  • git://

You can also make your own repository from one of your current machine's configuration. See below. Additionally, to allow using multiple dotfile repos at once, take a look at


To install "...", run these commands in your Unix shell:

> cd $HOME
> git clone git://
> cd .../src
> # Get collections of dot files from various places
> git clone git://
> git clone git:// personal
> svn checkout your/svn/dot/file/repo private
> cd ..
> cp example.conf conf
> vim conf              # Edit the ... configuration file
> cd $HOME
> .../bin/... -h        # Show ... help info
> .../bin/... backup    # Backup your existing dot files
> .../bin/... install   # Install your new dot files
> exec bash
> ... upgrade


There are 3 possible ways to install your dot files:

  • hardlink to source (default)

  • symlink to source

  • copy from source

You can change this with the install_method configuration setting. You can also use the -h | --hardlink and -s | --symlink options of the install subcommand to override this from the command line.

Using links is preferable. That way if you change a dot file in your home directory, it gets changed in its source repository. Then you can push/pull changes upstream, and share them with your other machines and with the world.

Hard links are visially quiet, and symlinks are noisy. Your choice. Use copy when you don't want changes in $HOME to change files in your repo.


DotDotDot has a command to make a backup of all the files it would replace on the install command.

If you have the auto_backup option set in your config file (this is the default value; you would have to actually turn it off to disable it), then DotDotDot will make a backup of your files every time you run another command that might change your dot files.

Backups are just timestamp named directories under $HOME/.../backup/. Like this:


You can restore your dot files from a backup with the ... restore directory- name command.

Using Backup to Make a New Repository

If you are new to DotDotDot and want to take your dot files from one machine, make them into a repository and share them with your other machines, DotDotDot makes that easy. Just follow these steps:

> ... backup
Backed up 69 dot files to /home/ingy/.../backup/20101121-094620
> cd ~/...
> mv backup/20101121-094620 src/my-dots
> # Add `my-dots` to `dots` in the `conf` file.
> ... remove    # Delete all your dot files from $HOME
> ... install   # Reinstall them (as links!)
> cd src/my-dots
> git init
> git add .
> git commit -m 'first commit'
> git remote add origin <url-to-upstream-repo>
> git push origin master


This work is based on my experience working at Socialtext and their "stconfig" common settings:


This project is currently available at:


Ingy döt Net <>


Copyright (c) 2010-2015. Ingy döt Net.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.