August 2011 Archives

Managing my shell setup

Apologies for not being perl enough in this post .. my working environment is key to me being able to get anything done so I figure it’s a grey area I’m allowed to wander into.

Something I’ve battled with for a long time is how best to manage my bash setup and aliases.

For far too long I’d been copying a .bashrc or .bash_aliases file onto each new box I’m working on, comment out a few parts, fix a few parts, …

As I started having accounts on more machines the lack of scalability soon bacame very apparent.

Luckily (for me) I’m more than happy to steal-and-adapt ideas that other people have already thought of.


The concept I’ve stolen is the /etc/*.d/ pattern. If you’ve seen one of these directories you won’t be too shocked by the following explanation of my setup.

The gist of my setup is to have a small snippet of code and a directory of useful (turn-offable) snippets.

The Small Code Snippet

I add the following to my .bashrc if it’s missing:

if [ -d $HOME/.bashrc.d ]; then
    for x in $HOME/.bashrc.d/* ; do
        test -f "$x" || continue
        test -x "$x" || continue
        . "$x"

Snippet Directory

I make sure I have a directory: $HOME/.bashrc.d/

I fill it with small scripts that cover one or two features, and chmod +x the scripts that I want to have ‘turned on’.

Here’s an example directory listing:


Some examples

I’m sure you’re all happy with the directory listing and don’t need me to spoon-feed you bash setup commands but I’m still going to!


This one has a strange name because it’s one of the few cases where order matters; some later snippets call $HOME/bin scripts.

# add my own bin to my path
if [ -d ${HOME}/bin ]; then


In the same vein as home-bin, I also want to use my perlbrew - if I have it.

if [ -f $HOME/perl5/perlbrew/etc/bashrc ]; then
    source $HOME/perl5/perlbrew/etc/bashrc


I don’t spend all of my time adding paths and environment settings, I also want to minimise the amount of times I type something like

git my-custom-thingy

and see:

git: 'my-custom-thingy' is not a git command. See 'git --help'.

so I have another snippet that runs and makes sure my git aliases are all injected correctly:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
if [ `which git` -a ! -f $HOME/.bashrcd.gitalias.lock ]; then
    # we don't want to be running this multiple times concurrently
    date > $HOME/.bashrcd.gitalias.lock;

    # add aliases
    git config --global       status
    git config --global       commit
    git config --global       branch
    git config --global       checkout
    # etc

    # and cleanup
    rm $HOME/.bashrcd.gitalias.lock;

How does it help?

It probably looks like there’s still a lot of manual copy-paste required to install this on a new machine.

This is where git comes in!

Once you’re happy enough with your set-up:

cd $HOME/.bashrc.d/
git init
git add .
git commit -m 'Initial commit'

then add the remote of your choice and git push your hard work there.

Now a new machine setup is just:

git clone git://server/bashrcd $HOME/.bashrc.d

and adding the small code snippet to your .bashrc

I still have to manually copy something?!

No, of course not!

In your .bashrc.d/ folder create snippet.SOURCE. Paste the snippet into it. DO NOT make it executable!

Now you can do the following after your git clone:

cat $HOME/.bashrd.d/snippet.SOURCE >> $HOME/.bashrc
source $HOME/.bashrc

Where’s the git repo?

I said I had a remote repo. I’m sure you’re wondering where it is.

It’s on github … unfortunately it’s a private repo because I haven’t separated out the $employer specific setup. Sorry!

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Chisel

Today at YAPC I got unexpectedly moved to the main room; somehow this messed up all the mental preparations I’d made for the day:

  • sitting through at least one talk in the room
  • checking the layout, setup, etc
  • working out where I’d stand relative to the screen
  • (yada, yada)

I was lazy in the wrong ways and hadn’t figured on a move to a stage with a podium and a mic and a huge projection behind me.

Worse, and the thing I’m kicking myself most about is:

  • I didn’t plug my (current) laptop into ANY projectors at all before my talk
  • I’d assumed I could remember (in a moment of panic) that I could find certain settings

Bad Move.

Silly move!

In my vague defense:

  • the previous talk overran
  • I didn’t have the five minute grace period to find the setting(s) I wanted
  • people were drilling into my head with their evil laser-beam eyes!

I did muddle my way through but I’m thoroughly upset and unimpressed with my presentation skills today. It’s only my second YAPC talk but I really should have known better.

Next time I’ll get it right - I promise!

About Chisel