Multiple stow directories

Hi again 👋

Today I want to write about the problem that I recently had that I solved after a few hours of searching google. It may help others so I write a post about it.


For managing my dotfiles I’m using stow. It works great for my use case - symlinking folders from my dotfiles to actual place that they are needed. Yet recently I decided to split my dotfiles into two: public and private.

The problem was that after a split I cannot easily use stow fish from my private dotfiles because I got an error that this directory is already used by stow.

Stow folding problem

It turns out that stow is doing something called folding. It means that it is symlinking whole folder instead of individual files. So stow fish will create folder symlink and that is why I cannot symlink other files to the same location.


Yet stow has an interesting flag --no-folding which called while stowing folder: stow fish --no-folding. Because of this stow won’t symlink folders but files inside folders. Thanks to that I can have two dotfiles with the same fish folder but with different files.

Summary & TL;DR

If you want to symlink the same two directories from different stow folders you can use --no-folding flag.