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 (should also work on other *nix environments)
Table of Contents
- Project goals
- Why use dotgit?
- Usage example
- Getting started
- Example workflow
- Future goals
- Migrating from v1.x
- Share files between machines or keep separate versions, all in the same repo
- Make use of an intuitive filelist
- Grouping of files to make organization easy
- Make git source-control convenient and easy to use
Why use dotgit?
- You can very easily organize and categorize your dotfiles, making it easy to store different setups in the same repo (e.g. your workstation and your headless server dotfiles, both in the same repo)
- dotgit was designed with its most important goal being to make managing multiple machine's dotfiles easy, by allowing to easily share and separate dotfiles between machines
- Ease-of-use is baked into everything without hindering more advanced users. For instance, dotgit can automatically commit and push commits for you should you want it to, but you can just as easily make the commits yourself
- dotgit has an automated test suite that tests its functionality with several versions of Python on Linux and MacOS to ensure cross-platform compatibility
- Support for both symlinking or copying dotfiles to your home directory. Copying allows you to quickly bootstrap a machine without leaving your repo or dotgit on it
- No external dependencies apart from git allowing you to install and use dotgit easily in any environment that supports Python
- Encryption using GnuPG supported to allow you to store sensitive dotfiles
An example filelist might look something like this:
# grouping makes organization a breeze laptop=tools,x,ssh desktop=tools,x # sharing/splitting of dotfiles between hosts .vimrc:tools .vimrc:pi .xinitrc:x # encryption support using GnuPG .ssh/id_rsa:ssh|encrypt .ssh/id_rsa.pub:ssh|encrypt .bashrc # easily group dotfiles for other hosts into your dotgit repo .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.
In this example the host
laptop's ssh public and private key will also be
stored in the dotgit repo, but it will be safely encrypted using GnuPG
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 way you can for instance keep your "server" dotfiles in your
main dotfiles repo without cluttering your normal dotgit workflow.
You can also have a look at my personal dotfiles which I manage with dotgit here.
Arch Linux users can install the AUR package.
If you are not on Arch, the easiest way to install dotgit is using pip
pip3 if you're on a Debian-like system):
pip install dotgit
You can also get bash-completion to work by installing dotgit's bash-completion in your home folder:
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/kobus-v-schoor/dotgit/master/pkg/completion/bash.sh >> ~/.bash_completion
- 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 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.
It is strongly recommended to look through dotgit's help by running
dotgit --help. This will show you good ways to use dotgit and explain dotgit's options
A typical workflow might look something like the following. In this example we will set up two machines to use dotgit. The first will be named "laptop" and the second "desktop". We want to share a ".vimrc" file between the two but have separate ".xinitrc" files.
First we start on the laptop. On it we have the ".vimrc" file that we want to share as well as the ".xinitrc" file for the laptop. We create a new dotgit repo (cloning an empty repo or just making an empty dir) and init the repo by running the following inside the repo dir:
[laptop]$ dotgit init
This command creates an empty filelist and also makes the first commit inside the repo. Next, we set up our filelist. We will set up the complete filelist now, since the ".xinitrc" file for the desktop won't be affected while we work on the laptop (since it is in a separate category). We edit the filelist to look as follows:
# dotgit filelist .vimrc:laptop,desktop .xinitrc:laptop .xinitrc:desktop
Our filelist is now ready. To update the dotgit repo to match it we run the update command inside the dotgit repo:
[laptop]$ dotgit update -v
Our repository now contains the newly-copied ".vimrc" file as well as the ".xinitrc" file for the laptop. To see these changes, we can run the diff command:
[laptop]$ dotgit diff
We are now done on the laptop, so we commit our changes to the repo and push it to the remote (something like GitHub):
[laptop]$ dotgit commit
Next, on the desktop we clone the repo to where we want to save it. Assuming that dotgit is already installed on the desktop we cd into the dotfiles repo. We first want to replace the ".vimrc" on the desktop with the one stored in the repo, so we run the restore command inside the repo:
[desktop]$ dotgit restore -v
Note that dotgit always replaces the file in the repo if the same file exists in your home folder and you run the "update" command. To prevent this from happening, run the restore command first in in the previous step.
We now want to store the ".xinitrc" file from the desktop in our dotgit repo, so again we run the update operation.
[desktop]$ dotgit update -v
Again we save the changes to the dotfiles repo by committing it and pushing it to the remote:
[desktop]$ dotgit commit
Now we're done! To pull in the changes made from the desktop to the laptop, run "git pull" on the laptop. You might also need to run a "dotgit restore" on the laptop if you added new files to the filelist on the desktop.
dotgit was written with a plugin architecture which allows easily extending it with more functionality. The following plugins are on the wishlist for future releases (more suggestions welcome):
- 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
After much consideration it was decided to rather to not re-implement the directory support, which is the only major change functionality wise from the first version. It requires a lot of special treatment that breaks some of the logic that works very well for single files which lead to weird bugs and behaviour in the first version. Excluding it made the file-handling logic much more robust and the behaviour surrounding the handling of files is much more predictable.
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, do a hard restore using the old dotgit so that it copies all your
files from your repo to your home folder using
- Now, delete your old dotgit files inside your repo as well as your
cryptlist (which signals to dotgit that you are using the old version) using
rm -rf dotfiles dmz cryptlist passwd. Encrypted files are now specified using the new plugin syntax (check the usage example earlier in the readme), so add them to your original filelist using the new syntax.
- With the new version of dotgit, first run
dotgit init -vand then run
dotgit update -v. This will store the files from your home folder back in your repo in their new locations. If you have encrypted files this will also ask for your new encryption password
- 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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