Dotfiles in git

Published: 6 Mar, 2016
Tags: git

TL;DR: I put my dotfiles on GitHub and wrote a Makefile that installs it. You can find it all in gkudelis/dotfiles.

I recently started working for a new company. They’re using Vagrant to set up development environments and one of my first tasks was to sort out some package management issues. Long story short, I found myself starting a bunch of new machines and next week I’ll be starting many more.

Until now my process for getting my dotfiles onto a new machine involved a USB stick, but it’s definitely not the way to go if you need to do it more than once a month. I decided to put my dotfiles on GitHub and sort out some sort of installation script to make it all easier. Ideally I’d just clone the repository, cd into it, run something like make install and have all my stuff there.

Currently I only care about my dotfiles for vim, tmux, zsh and git. I could just symlink the tmux, zsh and git files, but vim would need something that could download all the packages. After a quick look I decided it’s time to switch to using Vundle as you just have to list all the packages you need in your .vimrc and Vundle will install/update them for you. The process becomes:

  • symlink .vimrc,
  • git clone Vundle inside .vim/bundle,
  • run vim +PluginInstall +qall to make Vundle download and install all the plugins.

After doing that I noticed that the last step was making vim error because of a missing colorscheme (which was about to be installed). Changing colorscheme solarized to silent! colorscheme solarized fixed that and I ended up with a non-interactive installation process.

After sorting out installation I realised that because I’m dealing with a number of different machines (OSX on my laptop, Linux on the work Vagrant machines) the dotfiles need to be slightly different (mostly differences in paths). My solution was to keep a branch for each of the different environments and have a master branch where changes to be applied to all branches would go. The specific branches can then be rebased onto the last commit of the master branch to bring in those general changes.

P.S. The morning after setting this up I found GitHub does dotfiles. If you’re interested in setting this up for yourself you should go read that first.