Yet Another Dotfiles Manager
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yadm - Yet Another Dotfiles Manager

A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soulless. --May Sarton

When you live in a command line, configurations are a deeply personal thing. They are often crafted over years of experience, battles lost, lessons learned, advice followed, and ingenuity rewarded. When you are away from your own configurations, you are an orphaned refugee in unfamiliar and hostile surroundings. You feel clumsy and out of sorts. You are filled with a sense of longing to be back in a place you know. A place you built. A place where all the short-cuts have been worn bare by your own travels. A place you proudly call... $HOME.


Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved. --Ann Douglas

As so many others, I started out with a repository and a few scripts to symbolically link them around my home directory. This quickly became inadequate and I looked for solutions elsewhere. I've used two excellent tools; homeschick, and vcsh. These tools are great, and you should check them out to understand their strengths. However, I didn't find all of the features I personally wished for in a single tool. yadm was written with the following goals:

  • Use a single repository
  • Few dependencies
  • Ability to use alternate files based on OS or host
  • Ability to encrypt and track confidential files
  • Stay out of the way and let Git do what it's good at

Getting Started

I would not change my blest estate for all the world calls good or great. --Isaac Watts

If you know how to use Git, then you already know how to use yadm. See the man page for a comprehensive explanation of commands and options.

If you don't currently have a repository

Start out with an empty local repository

yadm init
yadm add <important file>
yadm commit

Eventually you will want to push the local repo to a remote.

yadm remote add origin <url>
yadm push -u origin master

If you have an existing remote repository

This clone will attempt to merge your existing repository, but if it fails, it will do a reset instead and you'll have to decide best on how resolve the differences.

yadm clone <url>
yadm status

Strategies for alternate files on different systems

To feel at home, stay at home. --Clifton Fadiman

Where possible, you should try to use the same file on every system. Here are a few examples:


let OS=substitute(system('uname -s'),"\n","","")
if (OS == "Darwin")
  " do something that only makes sense on a Mac


# use reattach-to-user-namespace as the default command on OSX
if-shell "test -f /usr/local/bin/reattach-to-user-namespace" 'set -g default-command "reattach-to-user-namespace -l bash"'


system_type=$(uname -s)
if [ "$system_type" = "Darwin" ]; then
  eval $(gdircolors $HOME/.dir_colors)
  eval $(dircolors -b $HOME/.dir_colors)

However, sometimes the type of file you are using doesn't allow for this type of logic. If a configuration can do an "include", you can include a specific alternate version using yadm. Consider these three files:


#---- .gitconfig -----------------
  decorate = short
  abbrevCommit = true
  path = .gitconfig.local

#---- .gitconfig.local##Darwin ---
  name = Tim Byrne
  email =

#---- .gitconfig.local##Linux ----
  name = Dr. Tim Byrne
  email =

Configuring Git this way includes .gitconfig.local in the standard .gitconfig. yadm will automatically link the correct version based on the operation system. The bulk of your configurations can go in a single file, and you just put the exceptions in OS-specific files.

Of course, you can use yadm to manage completely separate files for different systems as well.


#---- .signature##
- Tim
#---- .signature##Darwin.host1
Sent from my MacBook
- Tim
#---- .signature##Linux.host2
Dr. Tim Byrne

yadm will link the appropriate version for the current host, or use the default ## version.