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My OS X dotfiles.
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A fork of cowboy/dotfiles focused on OS X.

dotfiles - A single command to "bootstrap" a new system to pull down all of my dotfiles and configs, as well as install all the tools I commonly use. In addition, I wanted to be able to re-execute that command at any time to synchronize anything that might have changed. Finally, I wanted to make it easy to re-integrate changes back in, so that other machines could be updated.

How the "dotfiles" command works

When dotfiles is run for the first time, it does a few things:

  1. This repo is cloned into your user directory, under ~/.dotfiles.
  2. Files in /link are symlinked into ~/. (read more)
  3. You are prompted to choose scripts in /init to be executed. The installer attempts to only select relevant scripts, based on the detected OS and the script filename.
  4. Your chosen init scripts are executed (in alphanumeric order, hence the funky names). (read more)

On subsequent runs, step 1 just updates the already-existing repo, and step 4 remembers what you selected the last time. The other steps are the same.

Other subdirectories

  • The /backups directory gets created when necessary. Any files in ~/ that would have been overwritten by files in /copy or /link get backed up there.
  • The /bin directory contains executable shell scripts (including the dotfiles script) and symlinks to executable shell scripts. This directory is added to the path.
  • The /caches directory contains cached files, used by some scripts or functions.
  • The /conf directory just exists. If a config file doesn't need to go in ~/, reference it from the /conf directory.
  • The /source directory contains files that are sourced whenever a new shell is opened (in alphanumeric order, hence the funky names).

The "link" step

Any file in the /link subdirectory gets symlinked into ~/ with ln -s. Edit one or the other, and you change the file in both places. Don't link files containing sensitive data, or you might accidentally commit that data! If you're linking a directory that might contain sensitive data (like ~/.ssh) add the sensitive files to your .gitignore file!

The "init" step

Scripts in the /init subdirectory will be executed. A whole bunch of things will be installed, but only if they aren't already.

Hacking my dotfiles

Because the dotfiles script is completely self-contained, you should be able to delete everything else from your dotfiles repo fork, and it will still work. The only thing it really cares about are the /copy, /link and /init subdirectories, which will be ignored if they are empty or don't exist.

If you modify things and notice a bug or an improvement, file an issue or a pull request and let me know.

Also, before installing, be sure to read Ben's gently-worded note.


You need to have Xcode or, at the very minimum, the Xcode Command Line Tools, which are available as a much smaller download.

Heed this critically important warning before you install

If you're not me, please do not install dotfiles directly from this repo!

Why? Because I often completely break this repo while updating. Which means that if I do that and you run the dotfiles command, your home directory will burst into flames, and you'll have to go buy a new computer. No, not really, but it will be very messy.

Actual installation

  1. Read Ben's gently-worded note
  2. Fork this repo
  3. Open a terminal/shell and do this:
export github_user=lexrus && bash -c "$(curl -fsSL$github_user/dotfiles/master/bin/dotfiles)" && source ~/.zshrc

There's a lot of stuff that requires admin access via sudo, so be warned that you might need to enter your password here or there.

Aliases and Functions

To keep things easy, add your aliases, functions, settings, etc into one of the files in the source subdirectory, or add a new file. They're all automatically sourced when a new shell is opened. Take a look, I have a lot of aliases and functions.



Copyright (c) 2014 "Cowboy" Ben Alman
Licensed under the MIT license.

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