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Dotfile management made easy


Dotfile management made easy

dotfiles is a tool to make managing your dotfile symlinks in $HOME easy, allowing you to keep all your dotfiles in a single directory.

Hosting is up to you. You can use a VCS like git, Dropbox, or even rsync to distribute your dotfiles repository across multiple hosts.

The repository can be specified at runtime, so you can manage multiple repositories without hassle. See the Configuration section below for further details.

Directories are supported as well. Any file object in your home directory that starts with a . is fair game.


-a, --add <file...>
Add dotfile(s) to the repository.
-c, --check
Check for missing or unsynced dotfiles.
-l, --list
List currently managed dotfiles, one per line.
-r, --remove <file...>
Remove dotfile(s) from the repository.
-s, --sync [file...]
Update dotfile symlinks. You can overwrite colliding files with -f or --force. All dotfiles are assumed if you do not specify any files to this command.
-m, --move <path>
Move dotfiles repository to another location, updating all symlinks in the process.

For all commands you can use the --dry-run option, which will print actions and won't modify anything on your drive.


To install dotfiles, simply:

$ pip install dotfiles

Or, if you absolutely must:

$ easy_install dotfiles

But, you really shouldn't do that.

If you want to work with the latest version, you can install it from the repository:

$ git clone
$ cd dotfiles
$ ./bin/dotfiles --help


To install your dotfiles on a new machine, you might do this:

$ git clone Dotfiles
$ dotfiles --sync

To add '~/.vimrc' to your repository:

$ dotfiles --add ~/.vimrc     (relative paths work also)

To make it available to all your hosts:

$ cd ~/Dotfiles
$ git add vimrc
$ git commit -m "Added vimrc, welcome aboard!"
$ git push

You get the idea. Type dotfiles --help to see the available options.


You can choose to create a configuration file to store personal customizations. By default, dotfiles will look for ~/.dotfilesrc. You can change this with the -C flag. An example configuration file might look like:

repository = ~/Dotfiles
ignore = [
externals = {
    '.bzr.log':     '/dev/null',
    '.uml':         '/tmp'}

You can also store your configuration file inside your repository. Put your settings in .dotfilesrc at the root of your repository and dotfiles will find it. Note that ignore and externals are appended to any values previously discovered.


Dotfiles are stored in the repository with no prefix by default. So, ~/.bashrc will link to ~/Dotfiles/bashrc. If your files already have a prefix, . is common, but I've also seen _, then you can specify this in the configuration file and dotfiles will do the right thing. An example configuration in ~/.dotfilesrc might look like:

prefix = .


You may want to link some dotfiles to external locations. For example, bzr writes debug information to ~/.bzr.log and there is no easy way to disable it. For that, I link ~/.bzr.log to /dev/null. Since /dev/null is not within the repository, this is called an external. You can have as many of these as you like. The list of externals is specified in the configuration file:

externals = {
    '.bzr.log':     '/dev/null',
    '.adobe':       '/tmp',
    '.macromedia':  '/tmp'}


If you're using a VCS to manage your repository of dotfiles, you'll want to tell dotfiles to ignore VCS-related files. For example, I use git, so I have the following in my ~/.dotfilesrc:

ignore = [

Any file you list in ignore will be skipped. The ignore option supports glob file patterns.


Many programs store their configuration in ~/.config. It's quite cluttered and you probably don't want to keep all its content in your repository. For this situation you can use the packages setting:

packages = ['config']

This tells dotfiles that the contents of the config subdirectory of your repository must be symlinked to ~/.config. If for example you have a directory config/awesome in your repository, it will be symlinked to ~/.config/awesome.

This feature allows one additional level of nesting, but further subdirectories are not eligible for being a package. For example, config is valid, but config/transmission is not valid. Arbitrary nesting is a feature under current consideration.

At the moment, packages can not be added or removed through the command line interface. They must be constructed and configured manually. Once this is done, sync, list, check, and move will do the right thing. Support for add and remove is a current TODO item.


If you'd like to contribute, simply fork the repository, commit your changes, make sure tests pass, and send a pull request. Go ahead and add yourself to AUTHORS or I'll do it when I merge your changes.

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