Move your Dotfiles to Version Control

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There is something truly exciting about customizing your operating system through the collection of hidden files we call dotfiles. In What a Shell Dotfile Can Do For You, H. “Waldo” Grunenwald goes into excellent detail about the why and how of setting up your dotfiles. Let’s dig into the why and how of sharing them.

What’s a dotfile?

“Dotfiles” is a common term for all the configuration files we have floating around our machines. These files usually start with a . at the beginning of the filename, like .gitconfig, and operating systems often hide them by default. For example, when I use ls -a on MacOS, it shows all the lovely dotfiles that would otherwise not be in the output.

dotfiles on master
➜ ls
README.md  Rakefile   bin       misc    profiles   zsh-custom

dotfiles on master
➜ ls -a
.               .gitignore      .oh-my-zsh      README.md       zsh-custom
..              .gitmodules     .tmux           Rakefile
.gemrc          .global_ignore .vimrc           bin
.git            .gvimrc         .zlogin         misc
.gitconfig      .maid           .zshrc          profiles

If I take a look at one, .gitconfig, which I use for Git configuration, I see a ton of customization. I have account information, terminal color preferences, and tons of aliases that make my command-line interface feel like mine. 

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