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Keeping Files And Configuration In Sync

20 April 2015

I have a few computers I use on a daily basis, and I like to keep the same emacs and shell configuration on all of them, along with my org files and a handful of scripts. Since I'm sure other people have this problem as well, I'll share what I'm doing so anyone can learn from (or criticise) my solutions.

Git for configuration and projects

I'm a software developer, so keeping things in git just makes sense to me. I keep my org files in a privately hosted git repository, and Emacs and Zsh configurations in a public repo on github. My blog is also hosted and published on github as well; I like having it cloned to all my machines so I can work on drafts wherever I may be.

My .zshrc installs oh-my-zsh if it isn't installed already, and sets up my shell theme, path, and some other environmental things.

My Emacs configuration behaves similarly, making use of John Wiegley's excellent use-package tool to ensure all my packages are installed if they're not already there and configured the way I like them.

All I have to do to get running on a new system is to install git, emacs and zsh, clone my repo, symlink the files, and grab a cup of tea while everything installs.

Bittorrent sync for personal settings & books

For personal configuration that doesn't belong in and/or is too sensitive to be in a public repo, I have a folder of dotfiles and things that I sync between my machines using Bittorrent Sync. The dotfiles are arranged into directories by their purpose:

% tree -a -L 2
├── authinfo
│   └── .authinfo.gpg
├── bin
│   └── .bin
├── emacs
│   ├── .bbdb
│   └── .emacs.local.d
├── mail
│   ├── .gnus.el
│   ├── .signature
├── .sync
│   ├── Archive
│   ├── ID
│   ├── IgnoreList
│   └── StreamsList
├── tex
│   └── texmf
├── xmonad
│   └── .xmonad
└── zsh
    └── .zshenv

This folder structure allows my configs to be easily installed using GNU Stow from my dotenv folder:

stow -vvS *

Running that command will, for each file in each of the directories, create a symlink to it in my home folder if there isn't a file or directory with that name there already.

Bittorrent sync also comes in handy for syncing my growing Calibre ebook collection, which outgrew my Dropbox account a while back.

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