A comprehensive solution to managing your dotfiles
A comprehensive and versatile dotfiles manager
dotgit will allows you to easily store all your dotfiles for any number of machines in a single git repository. Written in python with no external dependencies besides git, it works on both Linux and MacOS.
- Make it possible to store different versions of the same file in a single repository, but also to
- Make it possible to share the same file between more than one host/category
- Make use of an intuitive filelist
- Use simple one-liners to interact with dotgit
- Categorising of files
- Make using git with the repo easy without impairing git's power
- Keep all your dotfiles for different setups/machines in a single repository
Why use dotgit?
- Easily keep several versions of the same file (e.g. for different hosts) in the same repo
- Easily share files between hosts (e.g. a common .vimrc)
- dotgit is managed through an intuitive filelist which allows you to easily set up complex configurations
- dotgit uses a straight-forward file-hierarchy similar to GNU Stow
- dotgit has an automated test suite that tests its functionality with several versions of Python on Linux and MacOS
- If you're uncomfortable with git, you can still easily use dotgit by letting dotgit work with git for you. If you prefer to work with git yourself you can easily do that - a dotgit repository is just a normal git repository and you don't need to use dotgit's git functionality at all if you don't want to.
- Support for both symlinking or copying dotfiles to your home directory. Copying allows you to quickly bootstrap a machine and remove the repo should you need to.
- No external dependencies apart from git
An example filelist might look something like this:
laptop=tools,x desktop=tools,x .vimrc:tools .vimrc:pi .xinitrc:x .bashrc .foo:server
Firstly, there will be two .vimrc files. The first one will be shared between
laptop. There will also be a separate
the dotgit repository that will only be used with the
The second thing to notice is that you can use categories to group dotfiles. In
the example there is a
x category. This makes working with a
group of dotfiles a breeze.
Since no host was specified with
.bashrc it will reside inside the
category. This means that it will be shared among all hosts using this dotgit
repository (unless a category is specifically used along with the dotgit
.foo will only be used when you explicitly use the category
server. This makes it easy to keep separate configurations inside the same
The easiest way to install dotgit is using pip:
pip install dotgit
Arch Linux users can also install the AUR package
- Choose a folder where you want to store your dotfiles,
~/.dotfilesis a good place to start
- Create your dotfiles folder and
mkdir -p ~/.dotfiles; cd ~/.dotfiles
- Initialize your dotgit repo with
dotgit init. You can also skip the first two steps and clone an empty repo that you created somewhere e.g. on Github and run the init step inside the cloned repo.
- Add your first dotfile
echo .bashrc >> filelist
- Update your dotgit repo (you need to do this whenever you change the
dotgit update -v. Once you do this your dotfile has been moved from your home directory to your dotfiles repo, and a symlink was created in your home directory in place of the original file pointing to the file inside your dotfiles repo.
- Commit your changes to your dotgit repo by doing running
That's it! When you want to push your changes to your git remote you just do a
git push as usual (dotgit will also offer to do this for you).
If you change your dotfiles (e.g. you edit your
.bashrc file) you don't need
to run an update operation again. You just cd into your dotfiles directory and
dotgit commit. dotgit will generate a commit for you with a fitting
description and will offer to push your changes to your remote (should you have
To restore your dotfiles on another machine, just clone your repo, install
dotgit and run
dotgit restore inside your repo.
dotgit was written with a plugin architecture in mind. It currently only has one plugin, namely the "plain" plugin, which just does symlinking. The following plugins are planned for some future release:
- Encryption using GnuPG
Migrating from v1.x
After many years dotgit was finally completely rewritten in python. The first version was written in pure bash, and while this was appealing at first it quickly became a nightmare from a maintenance point-of-view. The new python rewrite comes with many advantages including:
- Much better cross-platform compatibility, especially for MacOS. Using
findbecame problematic between different environments
- A fully automated test suite to test dotgit on both Linux and MacOS
- Code that the author can understand after not seeing it for a week
- Unified install method (pip) for all the platforms
Currently, two features are missing from the python rewrite:
- Encryption support: this will be added in a future release
- Directory support: after much consideration it was decided to rather to not re-implement this. It requires a lot of special treatment that breaks some of the logic that works very well for single files. Excluding it made the file-handling logic much more robust
Should you decide you'd like to stick to the old version of dotgit, you are welcome to do so. Installing the pip package will also make the original dotgit available as the command "dotgit.sh" (AUR package as well). Please note that I will not be able to support the old version anymore, and as such you're on your own if you decide to use the old version.
To make room for future improvements, the layout of the dotgit dotfiles repos had to change. Unfortunately this means that the new repos are not directly compatible with the old ones, although it is easy to migrate to the new version's format. To do so, do the following:
- Firstly, backup your current dotfiles repo in case something goes wrong
- Next, inside your dotfiles repo, move the dotfiles folder to its new location
mv dotfiles tmp; mkdir dotfiles; mv tmp dotfiles/plain.
- You can leave your filelist as-is, the filelist syntax hasn't changed. You will need to delete your "cryptlist" file as this signals to dotgit that this is an old repo. Once the new version supports encryption it will not make use of a seperate "cryptlist" file anyway, so there is no reason to keep it. Note that the encrypted files in your repo will be deleted once you run the new dotgit since it won't be able to find them in the filelist.
- With the new version of dotgit, run
dotgit update -v. This will update the repo if necessary and will also fix the symlinks in your home folder.
- Commit the changes to your repo using either git or
- Familiarize yourself with the new dotgit syntax which has changed slightly to
better follow conventions commonly found on the command-line by reading
through the help using
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