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This article collects user repositories with custom configuration files, commonly known as dotfiles.

Version control

Managing dotfiles with version control systems such as Git helps to keep track of changes, share with others, and synchronize dotfiles across various hosts.

Using gitignore

Keeping a git directory inside the home folder allows to directly keep track of changes. It is recommended to selectively add file contents to the index with git-add(1).

To prevent untracked files (appearing in commits and removed by git-clean(1)), first exclude all files with gitignore(5):


Then use git add -f, for example:

$ git add -f ~/.config/*

And commit the changes with git-commit(1):

$ git commit -a
Tip: To avoid accidentally commiting confidential information, see Git#Filtering confidential information.

Maintaining dotfiles across multiple machines

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Reason: This section needs a rewrite (Discuss in Talk:Dotfiles#)

One way of maintaining dotfiles across various machines across various hosts while still allowing for per-host customizations, is by maintaining a master-branch for all shared configuration, while each individual machine has a machine-specific branch checked out. Host-specific configuration can be committed to the machine-specific branch; as shared configuration is added to the master-branch, the per-machine branches are then rebased on top of the updated master.

The drawback on having some of the configuration files in multiple branches is that you have to remember to maintain and synchronize changes. Use conditional logic to minimize the number of machine specific files. For example, bash scripts (i.e. .bashrc) can apply different configuration depending on the machine name (or type, custom variable, etc.):

if [[ "$(uname -n)" == "archlaptop" ]]; then
    # laptop specific commands here
    # desktop or server machine commands

Another approach is to manage machine-specific configuration with tools based on template engines, e.g. qualia or Dotdrop. This approach requires less manual work and doesn't cause merge conflicts.


File grouping
How configuration files can be grouped to configuration groups (also called profiles or packages).
Some tools process configuration files to allow them to be customized depending on the host.
Name Package Written in File grouping Processing
dotdrop dotdropAUR Python configuration file Jinja2
dotfiles dotfilesAUR Python No No
Dots dots-managerAUR Python directory-based custom append points
GNU Stow stow Perl directory-based[1] No
Mackup mackupAUR Python automatic per application No
mir.qualia mir.qualiaAUR Python No custom blocks
rcm rcmAUR Perl directory-based (by host or tag) No

Tools wrapping Git

If you are uncomfortable with Git, you may want to use one of these tools, which abstract the version control system away (more or less).

Name Package Written in File grouping Processing
dotgit dotgitAUR Bash filename-based No
homeshick homeshick-gitAUR Bash repository-wise No
homesick homesickAUR Ruby repository-wise No
Pearl pearl-gitAUR Bash repository-wise No
vcsh vcshAUR Shell repository-wise No
yadm1) yadm-gitAUR Shell filename-based
(by class, OS, hostname & user) [2]
  1. Supports encryption of confidential files with GPG.[4]


Author Shell (Shell framework) WM / DE Editor Terminal Multiplexer Audio Monitor Mail IRC
alfunx zsh awesome vim kitty tmux ncmpcpp/mpd htop/lain thunderbird
Ambrevar Eshell EXWM Emacs Emacs (Eshell) Emacs TRAMP + dtach EMMS conky/dzen mu4e Circe
awal fish i3 vim st tmux i3status The Lounge
ayekat zsh karuiwm vim rxvt-unicode tmux ncmpcpp/mpd karuibar mutt irssi
bamos zsh i3/xmonad vim/emacs rxvt-unicode tmux mpv/cmus conky/xmobar mutt ERC
brisbin33 zsh xmonad vim rxvt-unicode screen dzen mutt irssi
BVollmerhaus bash i3-gaps kakoune rxvt-unicode polybar thunderbird
cinelli zsh dwm vim termite-git pianobar htop mutt-kz weechat
dikiaap zsh i3-gaps neovim alacritty tmux i3blocks
Earnestly zsh i3/orbment vim/emacs termite tmux mpd conky mutt weechat
ErikBjare zsh xmonad/xfce4 vim terminator tmux xfce4-panel weechat
falconindy bash i3 vim rxvt-unicode ncmpcpp conky mutt
graysky zsh xfce4 vim terminal ncmpcpp custom thunderbird
hugdru zsh awesome neovim rxvt-unicode tmux thunderbird weechat
insanum bash herbstluftwm vim evilvte tmux dzen mutt-kz
jasonwryan bash/zsh dwm vim rxvt-unicode tmux ncmpcpp custom mutt irssi
jdevlieghere zsh xmonad vim terminal tmux htop mutt weechat
jelly zsh i3 vim termite tmux ncmpcpp mutt-kz-git weechat
maximbaz zsh i3-gaps neovim kitty py3status thunderbird
meskarune bash herbstluftwm vim rxvt-unicode screen conky weechat
neersighted zsh i3 vim rxvt-unicode tmux ncmpcpp htop mutt irssi
OK100 bash dwm vim rxvt-unicode cmus conky, dzen mutt weechat
pablox-cl zsh (zplug) gnome3 neovim kitty
reisub0 bash awesome neovim termite mpd conky
sistematico zsh/fish/bash i3-gaps vim/nano termite tmux ncmpcpp polybar mutt weechat
sitilge zsh awesome neovim termite thunderbird
swalladge zsh/bash i3 neovim/vim termite tmux cmus i3pystatus mutt
SyfiMalik zsh i3 vim rxvt-unicode tmux ncmpcpp/mpd polybar mutt weechat
thiagowfx bash/zsh i3 vim/emacs rxvt-unicode ncmpcpp i3blocks
vodik zsh xmonad vim termite-git tmux ncmpcpp custom mutt weechat
w0ng zsh dwm vim rxvt-unicode tmux ncmpcpp custom mutt irssi
whitelynx fish i3 neovim kitty i3pystatus
Wintervenom bash herbstluftwm vim rxvt-unicode screen mpd (mpc-utils) hlwm-dzen2 mutt weechat
wolfcore bash dwm vim rxvt-unicode tmux cmus custom weechat
zendeavor zsh i3 vim rxvt-unicode tmux ncmpcpp i3status weechat

See also