I made a fairly major modification to my dotfiles yesterday when I revisited the structure and installation by leveraging the gnu utility, stow. I was introduced to the idea thanks to my partner in dotfile-crime, Stephen Tudor, who in turn found it off one of his other config-crazy people.

In short, stow is designed to take a package of files and symlink them into another directory as if they all belonged there. Since that’s primarily the way we install dotfiles, it’s a perfect fit. There’s some sweet options in targeting, unloading, force-loading, and so on. Everything is easy to use and keep organized. It was an easy update to take on.

The final piece of this update is my use of a Makefile for installation. Rather than running individual stow commands, or batch loading everything, I went to a modular approach with some basic environment detection. Some of my dotfiles require a follow-up step, or some directory preparation. The Makefile made it easy to put all that in place, and even add some pretty output for myself in the future.

Check it out over on github.

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