[Unix] Managing my dotfiles using Git
by Riley MacDonald, November 30, 2017

One of my employers presented me with two development machines on my first day (a desktop and a laptop machine). As I started configuring my development environment I realized I wanted the configuration to be synchronized across both machines. I wanted my bash profile, aliases, vimrc, gitconfig and all those types of files to be the same on both machines.

Storing my dotfiles using Git
I created a new directory ~/dotfiles and initialized it as a git repository. I added all the desired configuration files to this directory:

~/dotfiles $ ll
drwxr-xr-x  12 riley.macdonald  wheel    408 Nov 30 09:06 .
drwxr-xr-x  29 riley.macdonald  wheel    986 Nov 30 15:31 ..
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel    844 Nov 30 09:06 .bash_aliases
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel    274 Nov 22 10:19 .bash_exports
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel    106 Nov 15 16:37 .bashrc
drwxr-xr-x  15 riley.macdonald  wheel    510 Nov 30 09:17 .git
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel  70966 Nov 22 10:19 .git-completion.bash
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel    201 Nov 30 09:16 .gitconfig
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel      0 Nov 17 17:11 .ideavimrc
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel   9698 Nov 22 10:19 .vimrc
-rw-r--r--   1 riley.macdonald  wheel    343 Nov 30 09:06 README.md

These files contain all of my configurations organized into separate files. Using this approach I’m also able to version control and backup my configurations. If anything goes wrong I can roll back the changes or fix them while referencing a complete history.

Approach
I created a base ~/.bashrc file that sources all of the bash stuff (aliases, exports, etc). I then source my ~/.bash_profile to the ~/dotfiles/.bashrc base file:

source /Users/riley.macdonald/dotfiles/.bashrc

I follow the same approach for .vimrc etc. For git I use the [include] syntax (requires git 1.7.10+):

[include]
    path = /Users/riley.macdonald/dotfiles/.gitconfig

Summary
As I continue to customize my development environment I just push to the remote. When I’m on a different machine I can just pull and run source ~/.bash_profile and I’m good to go! Happy dotfiling!

Open the comment form

Leave a comment:

Comments will be reviewed before they are posted.

User Comments:

Be the first to leave a comment on this post!