Manage your dotfiles across multiple machines, securely.
How do I start with chezmoi now?
Install chezmoi then read the quick start guide. The how-to guide covers most common tasks, and there’s the frequently asked questions for specific questions. You can browse other people’s dotfiles that use chezmoi on GitHub and on GitLab. For a full description of chezmoi, consult the reference.
What does chezmoi do and why should I use it?
chezmoi helps you manage your personal configuration files (dotfiles, like
~/.bashrc) across multiple machines.
chezmoi is helpful if you have spent time customizing the tools you use (e.g. shells, editors, and version control systems) and want to keep machines running different accounts (e.g. home and work) and/or different operating systems (e.g. Linux, macOS, and Windows) in sync, while still being able to easily cope with differences from machine to machine.
chezmoi has strong support for security, allowing you to manage secrets (e.g. passwords, access tokens, and private keys) securely and seamlessly using a password manager of your choice or GnuPG encryption.
In all cases you only need to maintain a single source of truth: a single branch in a version control system (e.g. git) for everything public and a single password manager for all your secrets.
If you do not personalize your configuration or only ever use a single operating system with a single account and none of your dotfiles contain secrets then you don’t need chezmoi. Otherwise, read on…
What are chezmoi’s key features?
You can share as much configuration across machines as you want, while still
being able to control machine-specific details. You only need to maintain a
single branch. Your dotfiles can be templates (using
text/template syntax). Predefined
variables allow you to change behavior depending on operating system,
architecture, and hostname. chezmoi runs on all commonly-used platforms, like
Linux, macOS, and Windows. It also runs on less commonly-used platforms, like
FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Termux.
Personal and secure
Nothing leaves your machine, unless you want it to. You can use the version control system of your choice to manage your configuration, and you can write the configuration file in the format of your choice. chezmoi can retrieve secrets from 1Password, Bitwarden, gopass, KeePassXC, LastPass, pass, Vault, Keychain, Keyring, or any command-line utility of your choice. You can encrypt individual files with GnuPG. You can checkout your dotfiles repo on as many machines as you want without revealing any secrets to anyone.
chezmoi includes verbose and dry run modes so you can review exactly what changes it will make to your home directory before making them. chezmoi’s source format uses only regular files and directories that map one-to-one with the files, directories, and symlinks in your home directory that you choose to manage. If you decide not to use chezmoi in the future, it is easy to move your data elsewhere.
Declarative and robust
You declare the desired state of files, directories, and symbolic links in your source of truth and chezmoi updates your home directory to match that state. What you want is what you get. chezmoi updates all files and symbolic links atomically. You will never be left with incomplete files that could lock you out, even if the update process is interrupted.
Fast and easy to use
chezmoi runs in fractions of a second and makes most day-to-day operations one line commands, including installation, initialization, and keeping your machines up-to-date. chezmoi can pull and apply changes from your dotfiles repo in a single command, and automatically commit and push changes.
I already have a system to manage my dotfiles, why should I use chezmoi?
If you’re using any of the following methods:
- A custom shell script.
- An existing dotfile manager like homeshick, homesick, rcm, GNU Stow, or yadm.
- A bare git repo.
Then you’ve probably run into at least one of the following problems.
…if coping with differences between machines requires special care
If you want to synchronize your dotfiles across multiple operating systems or distributions, then you may need to manually perform extra steps to cope with differences from machine to machine. You might need to run different commands on different machines, maintain separate per-machine files or branches (with the associated hassle of merging, rebasing, or copying each change), or hope that your custom logic handles the differences correctly.
chezmoi uses a single source of truth (a single branch) and a single command that works on every machine. Individual files can be templates to handle machine to machine differences, if needed.
…if you need to think for a moment before giving anyone access to your dotfiles
If your system stores secrets in plain text, then you must be very careful about where you clone your dotfiles. If you clone them on your work machine then anyone with access to your work machine (e.g. your IT department) will have access to your home secrets. If you clone it on your home machine then you risk leaking work secrets.
With chezmoi you can store secrets in your password manager or encrypt them, and even store passwords in different ways on different machines. You can clone your dotfiles repository anywhere, and even make your dotfiles repo public, without leaving personal secrets on your work machine or work secrets on your personal machine.
…if your needs are outgrowing your current tool
If your system was written by you for your personal use, then it probably has the minimum functionality that you needed when you wrote it. If you need more functionality then you have to implement it yourself.
chezmoi includes a huge range of battle-tested functionality out-of-the-box, including dry-run and diff modes, script execution, conflict resolution, Windows support, and much, much more. chezmoi is used by thousands of people, so it is likely that when you hit the limits of your existing dotfile management system, chezmoi already has a tried-and-tested solution ready for you to use.
…if setting up your dotfiles requires more than two short commands
If your system is written in a scripting language like Python, Perl, or Ruby, then you also need to install a compatible version of that language’s runtime before you can use your system.
chezmoi is distributed as a single stand-alone statically-linked binary with no dependencies that you can simply copy onto your machine and run. chezmoi provides one-line installs, pre-built binaries, packages for Linux and BSD distributions, Homebrew formulae, Scoop and Chocolatey support on Windows, and a initial config file generation mechanism to make installing your dotfiles on a new machine as painless as possible.
How do people use chezmoi?
Dotfile repos using chezmoi
Have a look at repos tagged with
People talking about chezmoi
Read what people have said about chezmoi.
What documentation is available?
- Install guide to get chezmoi installed on your machine with one or two commands.
- Quick start guide for your first steps.
- How-to guide for achieving specific tasks.
- FAQ for questions that aren’t answered elsewhere.
- Changes for non-backwards compatible changes.
- Reference for a complete description of chezmoi.
- Contributing for people looking to contribute to or package chezmoi.