A simple dotfile management tool
remove CONF_DEST, just use home directory
remove hardcoded paths


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conf - a simple dotfile management tool


I've used many tools to manage my dotfiles over the years. I've used a repo with an install script, GNU stow, and most recently, Ansible. Conf is an attempt to take the good parts of each approach and build a highly specific yet flexible tool for dotfile management.


go get git.sr.ht/~benburwell/conf


To start using conf, you'll need to specify a source directory. This is currently done through an environment variable. For example, to use a repository at ~/projects/dotfiles, use:

  • CONF_SOURCE=~/projects/dotfiles

Now, you can start adopting dotfiles for conf to manage. Let's start with .vimrc:

$ conf adopt .vimrc

You can run this command from anywhere on your system, and conf will place a copy of your ~/.vimrc file into $CONF_SOURCE/templates/.vimrc.

Open up $CONF_SOURCE/templates/.vimrc, make a change, and then run conf apply .vimrc. You'll see that conf has updated your vimrc file with your latest changes. Like conf adopt, this command can be run from anywhere on your system; .vimrc in this case is relative to $CONF_SOURCE, not to your current directory.

If you typically use Vim, you may wish to add the following to your .vimrc:

au BufWritePost ~/dotfiles/templates/* call ConfApply(expand('%:p'))

function! ConfApply(name)
  let l:rel = substitute(a:name, "^".expand("~/dotfiles/templates/"), "", "")
  silent execute "!conf apply " . l:rel

Any time you write changes to a file in your dotfiles, conf will automatically apply them.

You may have noticed that your source dotfiles are in a directory named templates. This is because you can use Go's templating engine to enhance your dotfiles. For example, you may want to include OS-dependent behavior:

{{ if eq OS "darwin" }}
export OPENER=open
{{ else }}
export OPENER=xdg-open
{{ end }}

The following variables are available for you:

  • OS
  • Arch
  • Hostname
  • Home

If you want to define your own variables, you may do so in $CONF_SOURCE/vars.toml and they will be available under .Vars.