Backup configuration and dotfiles with Git and a shell script

A few months ago, the harddrive of my previous laptop died on me, but I could work on a Ubuntu partition I prepared for cases like this. Luckily, I kept a backup of all the important configuration files from things like Sublime Text in a Git repository. At this point I wanted to improve the process of manually copying the files from the various locations to the repo directory. I wrote a little shell script for that purpose.

Notice, that the script is adjusted to my personal needs and the software I use. It should work on your machine, but I haven’t tested it anywhere apart from my own environments.

🔗 Jump to heading What is the script doing?

The script is meant to be executed from within the target repository containing the configuration files. Thus, it first checks if the directory is actually a Git repository and whether there is a .git directory indicating that we’re indeed at the root of the repo.

if [[ ! -d .git ]] || ! git rev-parse --git-dir > /dev/null 2>&1; then
  echo "Not a git repository."
  exit 1

Now I try to detect which operating system is in use. That’s because I keep the files from various OS’s separated. This might be unnecessary and even a hinderance, but for now I like to stay save here. The path snippet for the operating system is saved in the variable OS. Another thing I do here is assigning the location of the Sublime Text configuration to a variable, since these are different from OS to OS. The other files (the dotfiles) usually sit in the home directory of the user.

After that, I create directories for every tool within the repo. For example the Bash files for Ubuntu end up in ${REPO_PATH}linux/bash/. Finally, general copy commands for every file are issued. Since the files where Sublime Text stores its keybindings in are OS-dependant, I use the OS variable I previously assigned to execute the right commands. That’s it, echo "Completed.".

🔗 Jump to heading Possible problems

The script assumes the locations of the configuration and dotfiles based on my experience. These might be different on other or future environments. I don’t know of a more reliable way for determining the correct paths, but that’s not too big of a deal breaker.

Also I really could use some sort of map. Bash version 4 has associative arrays, but Git Bash is on version 3. I don’t know whether a future Git installer (which is still sitting on 1.9.5 for Windows) might be using a newer version. Until then I keep associative arrays out of my script to keep it compatible with Windows environments.