How I Backup/Sync my Dotfiles & Apps

🇫🇷 Boris Jamot on October 19, 2018

My concern is to automatize the backup of my configuration files (aka dotfiles) and to generate a snapshot of all installed apps, whether it be thr... [Read Full]
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What I do to back up my dot files is I create a symbolic link in dropbox.

For example:

mv /home/greg/.bash_profile /home/greg/dropbox/macOS/home/greg/bash_profile 
ln -s /home/greg/dropbox/macOS/home/greg/bash_profile /home/users/greg/.bash_profile

With this setup I don't have to do a git commit & push each time I change one of my dot files :)


Smart idea and so simple that I didn't even think of it!


That's a nice approach, and I thought about it when I tried to sync my dotfiles with git, but it sounded weird to me to have my home folder as an entire repo, so I decided do move all my config files into a dotfiles folder, init the repo there, and create symlinks to those into my home folder with stow (if you've never heard about it, you should give it a go).

$ cat .gitignore 

$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit

Creating a git repository in a home is not a good practice, for a lot of reasons (especially as it basically works recursively). Your first commit is a good illustration: you add all your files, then remove those you do not want to consider. And you will have to keep in mind and perpetuate this scheme potentially each time a new critical file will be added.

Why do not consider an appropriate and standard tool like vcsh ( You find it in standard Linux distributions, it even allows multiple repos (if needed) in home and do not change the common workflow: you only add the files you need in repos.


In fact, it's the opposite of what you describe: it's a whitelist. First you ignore ALL, then you add the files you want to save.
Maybe it's not the best way but it's quite simple and it does the job ☺️
Thanks for your suggestion, I'll have a look on it !


Yep, you're right, I misspoke :-) I described the technical steps instead of the conceptual ones (as you initially add your files to a blacklist). Nevertheless, the facts are still there with your workflow: if you insert in your home a new file, independent of your project, you will have to add it to the .gitignore. However, as it is independent it shouldn't involve side effect on your project.

vcsh has been developed for this kind of purposes and helps you to keep a clean workflow. And if you have several repos in your home (for my own, I have an emacs repo, a zsh repo, etc.), you can couple it with mr (multiple repositories) in order to manage them more efficiently.

No, if I insert a new file in my home, it will be automatically ignored by my git config.


I wrote a backup tool to automate both back up and reinstallation of dotfiles, packages and config files:


Hi, it sounds great. But it seems to be limited to a list of pre-configured apps, right ?


It backs up lists of packages installed from most popular package managers, backs up whatever dotfiles you want (since the config file is user editable), and some configs (this is the only place it's limited right now.) I'm working on adding arbitrary path backing up, which would make it possible for you to back up whatever you want. I just finished up git integration, and the next big step for this project is expanding the scope of what can be backed up.

One cool thing is that it's open source, so if it's not backing up something that you think it should be, you can just write the code and open a PR!


Idea with backup list of instaled apps is awesome. I doesnt think about it firstly and then after format I have missing many apps :c

You should check my instalators on my github ( I created instalators for apt, flatpak, pip, snap, git (still under development), maybe you can learn something from them :)


I do something similar, but I use symlinks and an installer (sort of, it’s a ruby rake task).

You can find it here:


Do you also automatically update your "backup" on GitHub with a cron for example?


Not yet 😊
Otherwise I could use a hook in my package managers to automatically push to git when installing new stuff.

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