Tune Your Dot Files

Author: Stu Feeser

Alta3 Research’s Stu Feeser explains the process:


  1. Make your environment easy for students to follow.
  2. Remove the irritating bell sounds that compete with the lesson and your sanity.


  1. Make your bash prompt interesting (read gaudy). It’s helpful for my students to track a vivid prompt to delimit my activity. Go here to create the perfect bash prompt

    My favorite: export PS1="\[\]\u\[\]\[\]@\[\]\[\]\h\[\]\[\]:\[\]\[\]\w\[\] \[\]\$\[\] "

    Gaudy-Prompt Gaudy-Prompt

  2. Once you like what you see, save the prompt at the bottom of your .bashrc file like this: :wq to save and quit, OR q! to quit without saving if you made a mistake.

    ~ $ vim .bashrc

    PS1="\[\]\u\[\]\[\]@\[\]\[\]\h\[\]\[\]:\[\]\[\]\w\[\] \[\]\$\[\] "
  3. Set vim as the default editor.

    ~ $ sudo update-alternatives --config editor

    3 Select option 3

  4. Remove the irritating CLI BELL by editing the /etc/inputrc file. (Yes, this is repeated from the last lab).

    ~ $ echo 'set bell-style none' | sudo tee -a /etc/inputrc

  5. Get rid of the vim bell. This creates a .vimrc as it will not be there on new installations.

    ~ $ vim .vimrc

    set belloff=all

Create your Github Repository!

  1. Go to https://github.com/yourUsername

  2. Click on Repositories at the top.

  3. Click New on the right-hand side.

  4. Fill in your Repository name, make it private, then click the checkbox to make a README file.

  5. Now click Create Repository.

    private_github_repo private_github_repo

Backup your dotfiles!

  1. Create a bare repository called .dotfiles

    ~ $ mkdir $HOME/.dotfiles

    ~ $ git init --bare $HOME/.dotfiles

  2. Create an alias to issue git commands while NOT being inside the .dotfiles directory.

    ~ $ alias dotfiles='/usr/bin/git --git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles/ --work-tree=$HOME'

  3. Add the dotfiles alias to your .bashrc.

    vim .bashrc

    alias dotfiles='/usr/bin/git --git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles/ --work-tree=$HOME'
  4. This is important for your understanding. From here on out, when you type dotfiles it is like typing:

    git --git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles/ --work-tree=$HOME' PLUS WHATEVER ELSE YOU TYPE

  5. Don’t show untracked files, as there will be too many in your $HOME directory!

    dotfiles config --local status.showUntrackedFiles no

  6. Target your github account, NOT sfeeser!

    dotfiles remote add origin git@github.com:sfeeser/.dotfiles.git

    If you accidentally run the command exactly as above, you can fix that with dotfiles remote remove origin and then update the command to your github account.

  7. Add the .bashrc file you just created.

    ~ $ dotfiles add .bashrc

  8. Purely FYI, the above command = git --git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles/ --work-tree=$HOME add .bashrc

  9. Tell github who your are.

    ~ $ git config --global user.email "youremail@address"
    ~ $ git config --global user.name "yourusername"

  10. Commit your change.

    ~ $ dotfiles commit -m "add .bashrc"

  11. Push your changes.

    ~ $ dotfiles push --set-upstream origin master

Recovery at a new machine

  1. Pull down the .dotfiles using your account, not sfeeser.

    ~ $ git clone --separate-git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles https://github.com/sfeeser/.dotfiles.git ~

  2. If the command above doesn’t work, clone to a temp directory and use rsync to bring it all back. Use your account, not sfeeser.

    ~$ git clone --separate-git-dir=$HOME/.dotfiles https://github.com/sfeeser/.dotfiles.git tmpdotfiles

    ~$ rsync --recursive --verbose --exclude '.git' tmpdotfiles/ $HOME/

    ~$ rm -r tmpdotfiles

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