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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  XSTOW (1)

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XStow, replacement for GNU Stow



xstow [OPTION ...] PACKAGE


XStow is a replacement of GNU Stow (stow) written in C++. It supports all features of Stow with some extensions.

XStow as GNU Stow, are programs for managing the installation of software packages, keeping them separate (/usr/local/stow/emacs vs. /usr/local/stow/perl, for example) while making them appear to be installed in the same place (/usr/local).


xstow [OPTION ...] PACKAGE

Install a package

        xstow foobar

Uninstall package

        xstow -D foobar


-dl -debug-level INT Set’s the debug level. An unsigned integer is accepted. The default value is 0.
-dm -debug-module [ALL|ARG|MAIN|TREE|CPPDIR] Filter messages from a specific module.
-h -help Shows a help screen.
-V -Version Displays XStows version number and supported features.
-n -no Do not actually make changes
-c -conflicts Scan for conflicts, implies -n.
-s -simulate Simulate installation. If this option is set permission problems will be ignored and -verbose will be set to 1.
-d -dir DIR Set stow dir to DIR. The default is the current directory.
-d -target DIR Set target to DIR. The default is the parent of the stow directory.
-v -verbose [0|1|2|3] Increase verboseness. Possible levels are 0,1,2 or 3. Simple setting -v or -verbose adds 1.
-D -delete Unstow instead of stow. Deinstall the package.
-R -restow The same like -delete followed by an reinstall.
-ap -absolute-path Create symlinks with absolute path names. XStow can always handle packages which were installed with this option. Installing one package with absolute path names and one without is no problem. Only the creation of the symlinks will be affected by this option. This will cause that if one package is installed with this option and one without, some of the symlinks of the first package, when they have to be recreated will be recreated as relative ones. It is not good idea doing this, even XStow does not have any problems with it. Warning: Breaks compatibility with Stow!
-tr -traversable LINKS A list of links pointing to directories, that can be ignored. eg.: /usr/local/man is a link to /usr/local/share/man Warning: Breaks compatibility with Stow!
-tkt -tr-keep-targets Add the list of traversable links also to the keep targets list. This prevents the targets of the links from being removed by XStow, which would cause that the traversable link becomes a dead link.
-tre -tr-auto PATTERN Automatically add links which target matches this pattern.
-tre -tr-auto-regex REGEX Automatically add links which target matches this pattern.
-kd -keep-dirs DIR A list of directories, that should not be removed when a package will be removed. Warning: Breaks compatibility with Stow!
-i -ignore PATTERN Ignore files that matches this pattern.
-ire -ignore-regex REGEX Ignore files that matches this expression.
-ni -nignore PATTERN Ignore everything except file and directories matching this expression. eg: systree/bintree systree/headertree. For using nignore support fnmatch and configration file support has to be enabled. For more details see xstow.ini(5).
-cp -copy PATTERN Copy files or directories that matching this pattern.
-cre -copy-regex REGEX Copy files or directories that matching this expression.
-ifd -i-file-in-dir DIR/FILE Ignore this file in this directory. (Relative to the package dir.)
-cfd -c-file-in-dir DIR/FILE Copy this file in this directory. (Relative to the package dir.)
-sd -stow-dirs DIR A list of other stow dirs, that xstow is allowed change
-sda -sd-auto PATTERN Automatically add directories to the list when matching this expression.
-sde -sd-auto-regex REGEX Automatically add directories to the list when matching this expression.
-pd -protect-dirs DIR A list of other dirs, that xstow is not allowed change
-pda -pd-auto PATTERN Automatically add directories to the list when matching this expression.
-pde -pd-auto-regex REGEX Automatically add directories to the list when matching this expression.
-pdt -pd-targets DIRS A list of dirs, xstow is allowed to change.
-pta -pdt-add-traversable DIRS Automatically add the targets of traversable links to the targets list.
-f -force Skip conflicts if possible.
-C -no-curses Do not detect the terminal width by using curses. There is more description at the environment variable section.
-F file Read this configuration file too.


0 On success.
1 On a missspelled call of xstow.
2 If an internal error occoured.
3 Installing the package failed of some reason. All the prechecking was ok, but the execution of the exec list failed.
4 Installing a package failed.


Since the debugging of the command line parsing can be hard if the debugging level is set by the command line there are two evironment variables:
XSTOW_DEBUG_LEVEL Same as the -debug-level option.
XSTOW_DEBUG_MODULE Same as the -debug-module option.

Both values will be overwritten by the settings of the command line, after the command line was parsed.

XSTOW_USE_CURSES Same as the -no-curses option.

In later versions xstow tried detecting the terminal width and height, by default at the startup routine. Even if this value is only used by the help screen. The result was:

    $ TERM="" xstow
    Error opening terminal: unknown.

The error message is reported by the ncurses lib. This can cause problems if you wan’t start xstow as a cron job. Now xstow tries detecting the terminal width not in it’s startup, but when the help screen is printed out. As an extra option you can set the environment variable XSTOW_USE_CURSES=0 this will tell xstow not using curses anyway.


The configuration file xstow.ini can be located in /etc and/or in the current stow directory. For possible settings and syntax of this file see xstow.ini(5)

In this manpage there are some detailed informations of some special settings of XStow too. Please read it!


    Common Usage

As an example we install the ixlib library into the /usr/local/ tree.

        tar xvfz ixlib-0.96.2.tar.gz
        cd ixlib-0.96.2

So far, this was business as usual.

Note: by default the configure script prepares the application for being installed into /usr/local/. Have a look at configure --help for more info.

Now installation is done by not installing ixlib directly into /usr/local/, we install it into /usr/local/stow/ixlib-0.96.2/.

        make install prefix=/usr/local/stow/ixlib-0.96.2/

The last point is creating all necessare symlinks so that ixlib’s include files can be found by the compiler in /usr/local/include. Therefore we are using xstow.

        cd /usr/local/stow
        xstow ixlib-0.96.2

And all symlinks will be created.

    Installing XStow by using XStow

After calling the configure script and make, XStow is installed into the stow directory as I showed it in the upper example.

        make install prefix=/usr/local/stow/xstow-0.1.0

Then you switch to the stow directory and call XStow

        cd /usr/local/stow
        xstow-0.1.0/bin/xstow xstow-0.1.0

That is it.


    Link Creation

By default XStow is fully Stow compatible. The usage of some of the advanced features can cause that Stow cannot handle the tree any more.

    Command Line Options

XStow supports all command line options of Stow. Even it’s format.

        xstow --verbose=2 foobar


There are some nitty gritty cases, but no known bugs.


Stow requires Perl. But what’s on systems where no Perl is available, or not yet installed? I tried compiling Stow with perlcc, but it failed.


XStow was written by Martin Oberzalek <>.


XStow a replacement of GNU Stow written in C++.

Copyright (C) 2002-2005 by Martin Oberzalek <>

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


xstow.ini(5) merge-info(1) stow(1)

GNU Stow has an excelent documentation. Have a look at the manual.

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XStow 1.0.2 XSTOW (1) 2014-04-06

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