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My dotfiles

Works on *nix, optimized for macOS.

Managed using Stow, so you can pick and choose which programs to install.


Initially I tried entirely automating the entire install process, but quickly found it wasn't worth the maintenance. Starting from scratch happens so rarely for me that each time I was fiddling with the bootstrap scripts to work around a random issue (often due to a new version of macOS).

Instead, it's simpler to install stuff by hand, and manage only the configuration files (dotfiles) in this repo.

Install steps on a clean macOS machine

  1. Make hidden files/folder visible in Finder:

    defaults write -g AppleShowAllFiles -bool true
  2. Clone this repo:

    git clone ~/.dotfiles

    If cloning to a server without a Github-connected SSH key use https instead:

    git clone ~/.dotfiles
  3. Install desired binaries using your favorite package manager:

    • If on macOS, use Homebrew:

      1. Install Homebrew.

      2. Use Homebrew Bundle to install the stuff listed in the .Brewfile:

        brew bundle --file=~/.dotfiles/homebrew/.Brewfile

        After the .Brewfile is symlinked into ~/.Brewfile, just use:

        brew bundle --global
    • Make sure Stow gets installed, we'll use this later to symlink the dotfiles.

    • Ruby: Use rvm instead of Homebrew. Much easier to manage gemsets, ruby versions, etc.

    • Node: Use nvm instead of Homebrew for managing Node.

  4. Switch the default shell to the zsh installed by Homebrew (it's a newer version than the macOS default):

    1. Append the path to Homebrew's installed zsh:

      sudo sh -c "echo $(brew --prefix)/bin/zsh >> /etc/shells"
    2. chsh -s $(brew --prefix)/bin/zsh
  5. Install prezto:

    git clone --recursive "${ZDOTDIR:-$HOME}/.zprezto"

    The default prezto instructions say to symlink the default config files. Don't do this; instead use Stow to symlink your own config files (instructions below).

    To update prezto:

    git pull && git submodule update --init --recursive
  6. Now use stow to symlink whatever config files are relevant:

    1. cd ~/.dotfiles/
    2. $ stow FOLDER_NAME will symlink all the files inside of the folder into the parent directory (in this case, the user's home folder.)

    stow whatever is relevant:

    • bash
    • flake8
    • git
    • homebrew - stowable, brew bundle --global will use $HOME/.Brewfile
    • htop
    • iterm2 - my .zshrc file is configured to look for the shell integration file.
    • pudb
    • pydocstyle
    • pylint
    • pypi
    • ruby
    • ssh
    • tmux - #TODO
    • vim - for when Neovim isn't available
    • vimify - .inputrc and .editrc make vim commands work in many interactive shells, for example the mysql and postgres shells
    • zsh - includes prezto config files

    Stow thoughtfully raises an error if the symlink destination already exists. For example, installing zsh creates a default ~/.zshrc and ~/.zshlogin. Just delete these default files before stowing your customized versions.

    If using a different OS than macOS, some packages may store their config files at a different location. For example, the fonts folder. Just specify the full destination path for Stow.

    More info:

  7. Other config files that aren't stowable:

    • nvim - Neovim. No need to stow as it respects $XDG_CONFIG_HOME
    • python - not stowable, use pip install -r ~/.dotfiles/python/requirements.txt
    • VSCode IDE - don't backup its dotfiles, use its built-in settings sync instead.
  8. Other apps I commonly install:

  9. zsh completion scripts:

    Symlink any completion scripts into /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/. The filename must begin with an _ or zsh will not read it. Prezto caches the output of compinit, to rebuild the cache do:

    # typically for me this is located in ~/.cache/prezto/zcompdump
    rm -rf "${XDG_CACHE_HOME:-$HOME/.cache}/prezto/zcompdump" && compinit

    Note: Many homebrew formulae automatically handle installing the formula's completion scripts. For example, brew install the_silver_searcher(ag) will also install a completion script for ag in /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/.

    Docker completion scripts - I opened sorin-ionescu/prezto#1459 to try to get this into prezto:

    ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/_docker
    ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/_docker-machine
    ln -s /Applications/ /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/_docker-compose

Misc Notes

List of possible macOS customizations:

For themes, check out the Base16 template system.

Favorite Colorschemes:

  • monokai
  • solarized
  • railscasts

Favorite Fonts:

  • Ubuntu Monospace including powerline fix
  • Adobe Source Code (look for powerline fix)



Copyright 2015 Jeff Widman Licensed under the MIT License


Works on *nix, optimized for macOS. Managed using Stow








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