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Manage dotfiles with stow

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dotstow (DEPRICATED)

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Manage dotfiles with stow

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The pypi dotstow module is deprecated.

Please use the one found on npm.

You can install it by running the following command.

npm install -g dotstow

The new and improved dotstow module on npm supports the following features.

  • Group dotfiles into units (stow packages)

  • Automatically symlink (stow) files

  • Backup dotfiles with git

  • Keep track of simultaneous dotfile configurations for multiple environments

  • Supports shell autocompletion

If you were using the python version of dotstow, you should upgrade to this version to get the benefits of multiple environments. If you switch you will have to move your stash plugins into an environment folder (global is recommended).

You can do that by running the following commands.

mkdir ~/tmp_global
mv ~/.dotfiles/* ~/tmp_global
mv ~/tmp_global mkdir ~/.dotfiles/global


  • Group dotfiles into units (stow packages)

  • Automatically symlink (stow) files

  • Backup dotfiles with git


Screenshot 1

Screenshot 1


pip3 install dotstow



Note that unlike many dotfile syncing tools, this is powered by GNU Stow. This means your dotfiles must be stored inside stow packages (subfolders) instead of the root of your repo. This prevents cluttering your home directory with unwanted files, like your It also enables you to only install dotfiles you want on that computer.

The idea behind dotstow is twofold: 1. You don’t need to maintain a shell script that symlinks all of your dotfiles to the correct places in your $HOME directory upon a new dotfile install 2. Individual directories in you .dotfiles become packages that can be installed independently using dotstow [package]

For example:

When setting up your dotfiles on a new computer 1. Run dotstow sync, give it your dotfiles github repo link, and watch as it’s cloned into ~/.dotfiles. 2. Rundotstow zsh emacs vim ... etc for each of the stow packages you’d like to install (aka symlink to $HOME). 3. When you update a file in a package, you only need to dotstow sync to update your linked github repo with the changes. If you add new files to your stow package you will need to restow the package. For example, when adding .zshrc to .dotfiles/zsh/, you will need to dotstow zsh to restow the package and then dotstow sync to update your linked github repo with the changes.


Create a remote dotfiles repo. You can create one at GitHub.

Run the following command

dotstow sync

Creating a stow package

mkdir ~/.dotfiles/my-stow-package

Adding dotfiles to stow package

mv ~/.some-dotfile ~/.dotfiles/my-stow-package

Syncing dotfiles

dotstow sync


The following example demonstrates syncing your .zshrc file with dotstow

mkdir ~/.dotstow/zsh       # creates a new stow package called 'zsh'
mv ~/.zshrc ~/.dotstow/zsh # adds dotfiles to the 'zsh' stow package
dotstow zsh                # symlinks the 'zsh' stow package
dotstow sync               # syncs your dotfiles


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MIT License

Jam Risser © 2018


Review the changelog


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