Quick Start

Quick Start Guide #


Concepts #

chezmoi stores the desired state of your dotfiles in the directory ~/.local/share/chezmoi. When you run chezmoi apply, chezmoi calculates the desired contents and permissions for each dotfile and then makes any changes necessary so that your dotfiles match that state.


Start using chezmoi on your current machine #

Assuming that you have already installed chezmoi, initialize chezmoi with:

$ chezmoi init

This will create a new git repository in ~/.local/share/chezmoi where chezmoi will store its source state. By default, chezmoi only modifies files in the working copy. It is your responsibility to commit and push changes, but chezmoi can automate this for you if you want.

Manage your first file with chezmoi:

$ chezmoi add ~/.bashrc

This will copy ~/.bashrc to ~/.local/share/chezmoi/dot_bashrc.

Edit the source state:

$ chezmoi edit ~/.bashrc

This will open ~/.local/share/chezmoi/dot_bashrc in your $EDITOR. Make some changes and save the file.

See what changes chezmoi would make:

$ chezmoi diff

Apply the changes:

$ chezmoi -v apply

All chezmoi commands accept the -v (verbose) flag to print out exactly what changes they will make to the file system, and the -n (dry run) flag to not make any actual changes. The combination -n -v is very useful if you want to see exactly what changes would be made.

Next, open a shell in the source directory, to commit your changes:

$ chezmoi cd
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "Initial commit"

Create a new repository on GitHub called dotfiles and then push your repo:

$ git remote add origin git@github.com:username/dotfiles.git
$ git branch -M main
$ git push -u origin main

chezmoi can also be used with GitLab, or BitBucket, Source Hut, or any other git hosting service.

Finally, exit the shell in the source directory to return to where you were:

$ exit

Using chezmoi across multiple machines #

On a second machine, initialize chezmoi with your dotfiles repo:

$ chezmoi init https://github.com/username/dotfiles.git

This will check out the repo and any submodules and optionally create a chezmoi config file for you.

Check what changes that chezmoi will make to your home directory by running:

$ chezmoi diff

If you are happy with the changes that chezmoi will make then run:

$ chezmoi apply -v

If you are not happy with the changes to a file then either edit it with:

$ chezmoi edit $FILE

Or, invoke a merge tool (by default vimdiff) to merge changes between the current contents of the file, the file in your working copy, and the computed contents of the file:

$ chezmoi merge $FILE

On any machine, you can pull and apply the latest changes from your repo with:

$ chezmoi update -v

Next steps #

For a full list of commands run:

$ chezmoi help

chezmoi has much more functionality. Good starting points are reading articles about chezmoi adding more dotfiles, and using templates to manage files that vary from machine to machine and retrieve secrets from your password manager. Read the how-to guide to explore.