Managing dotfiles
9 September 2022  •  3 min to read

I finally got around to setting up a way to manage my dotfiles - using a Git bare repository. This blog post a tutorial for future reference in order to be able to replicate this setup on a different computer.

I mainly followed this tutorial from Bitbucket & another one that goes a bit more into detail.

In these tutorials, they’re using .cfg as the folder name for the dotfiles repository and config as the alias for the git command that will interact specifically with this repo.

For me it made more sense to call both the command and the directory simply dotfiles so the command snippets here will use my personal naming scheme.

Initial setup

# create bare repo
git init --bare $HOME/.dotfiles
cd .dotfiles/
git branch -m main  # renamed master to main

# create alias called 'dotfiles' (acts as the 'git')
alias dotfiles='/usr/bin/git --git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles/ --work-tree=$HOME'
dotfiles config --local status.showUntrackedFiles no

# add alias to .bashrc (can also be done by hand)
echo "alias dotfiles='/usr/bin/git --git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles/ --work-tree=$HOME'" >> $HOME/.bashrc

I also added my dotfiles repository on GitHub as the remote repo.

dotfiles remote add origin
dotfiles pull origin main
dotfiles push --set-upstream origin main

Now, any file within the home folder can be versioned with normal commands, using dotfiles instead of the normal git command:

# example of adding my Visual Studio code config
cd .config/Code/User # settings.json is located here
dotfiles add settings.json
doftiles commit -m 'added VS Code config'
dotfiles push

Viewing all currently tracked files

If I want to see all the files that I’m currently tracking in my bare repository, I can use this command:

dotfiles ls-tree --full-tree -r HEAD

Setting up this existing repository on a new system

Now it should be possible to use the dotfiles command again to interact with the dotfiles repository :)

Next steps

Now that this is set up, I want to only add files to this repository that actually have some custom stuff that was changed by me personally. If a config file is still exactly the same way it was after I installed Manjaro, I don’t really see why I should track it.

I also want to clean up my .bashrc file before commiting because there’s a suprising amount of weird stuff in there already.

But all in all I’m pretty happy with the result, now I can finally start tidying up all my config files.

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