writing about things, sometimes.

$HOME as a git repo

Written by Omar Polo on 02 April 2020.

I finally decided to track my dotfiles on a git repository. This should make things simpler when migrating to another machine, as well as having consistent configuration across various computers. We'll see how well it will go for me.

I've done a bit of research on the internet and I've found this. The author of that post suggest to use your whole $HOME as a git repository, with a one-byte .gitignore:


While the mine is actually two-bytes long due to a newline, this got me started. Git will ignore everything (music, documents, logs...) except files that you add with -f. So far so good.

edit: the part that follows is mostly wrong. The problem I had was due to this piece of my global git config:

	excludesfile = ~/.gitignore

that was making git ignoring every file in my existings repos.

Why I had that thing in the first place? Well, it's the result of migrating to this machine. I had a global gitignore file in my home directory to ignore common files (like emacs backups, acme guide files and so on), that I forgot to copy on the new machine.

I've kept the rest of the post because of the .git/info/exclude bit that I didn't known about.

Except that this broke all my git repos.

I have several git repositories in subfolders inside my home, and since git goes recursively when searching for .gitignores it will ignore EVERY file.

Maybe the author has his ~/build or ~/src mounted with NFS or something else (git should stop at filesystem boundaries AFAIK), but this isn't my case.

Fortunately there is a simple solution:

$ cd
$ mv .gitignore .git/info/exclude

This way, for your ~ repository, git will exclude files listed on ~/.git/info/exclude (that is, every file not manually added), while behaving normally on every repository you have inside your home.