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There are many ways you can customize Install Doctor so that your device is provisioned to your liking. There are even ways to customize it without creating your own fork. You can customize it by utilizing the built-in prompt system, using environment variables, or forking it so that you can leverage encrypted secrets, custom software definitions, and custom scripts.


The Install Doctor project leverages dozens of technologies but, at its core, it is ultimately a Chezmoi project. This allows us to leverage Chezmoi's script execution abilities, encryption handlers, and diff feature (which allows you to display the changes that will be made before applying them).

If you decide that our built-in prompt system does not accomodate your needs, we highly recommend you sift through Chezmoi's documentation. By reading the documentation, you will learn why some files and folders start with dot_, how files ending with .tmpl are rendered, and additional features you can leverage.

That said, if you do not feel like taking a deep dive and learning a new technology, then you can leverage our built-in prompt system. Better yet, if you want to customize Install Doctor, you can customize the repository to your liking without having to learn the inner workings and features of Chezmoi.

Our project is the most ellaborate and full-featured implementation of Chezmoi we have come across. If you come across another project that parallels the full-featuredness of ours then please let our team and community know about it by posting in one of our social media sites / chat rooms which are all linked to on the Community page.


If you run Install Doctor for the first time, you might want to just run bash <(curl -sSL on Linux / macOS or iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString('')) on Windows. This will utilize Install Doctor's default settings along with prompts that gather some basic information about the type of installation you would like to perform.

One of the first things you will be prompted for is to select the type of software install you want to perform. You can choose one of the following:

  1. Basic - Includes software and utilities that are required for an enhanced terminal session as well as some software that we consider vital and important enough to install on any machine.
  2. Standard - Includes all the software installed by the Basic setting as well as other stable CLIs and applications that will most likely be useful to the standard user.
  3. Full - A full installation installs the majority of the software that we have tested and included in the software definitions file. It includes all the software installed by selecting Basic or Standard.

The built-in prompts will ask for a small handful of other important pieces of data like:

  • A sudo password for installing software like Homebrew or installing software via the system's built-in package manager
  • Your name and e-mail address (for populating files like the git config)
  • Corporate environment - Set to true if the device is a corporate asset. The installer will skip installing software like Tor or other software that might be flagged by corporate policies.
  • Restricted environment - Set to true if it is an environment where you do not have elevated permissions (i.e. sudo access or administrator privileges). Note: Sudoless installations are an experimental feature and have not been implemented yet.
  • Domain name - The domain name is required for launching web services. Assuming you also provide a CloudFlare API key, the script will automatically provision a configurable list of web services hosted on your machine, protected by CloudFlare Zero-Trust Teams. So, if you pass in a value of then will be the endpoint you use to connect via SSH, for instance. You can also enter a domain that you do not own like mypc.local and access web services Install Doctor provisions only locally via the mypc.local domain.
  • Hostname ID - The hostname ID should be unique for every device you provision with Install Doctor. It is utilized along with the domain name to create CloudFlare endpoints (if you provide an API key) for web services. It can also be leveraged to customize the list of software you want to install on the target host. Instead of using the Basic, Standard, or Full software definitions, you can automatically select the software to install on a machine by creating a definition specifically for a device with a certain hostname ID (more on that below). The hostname ID, by default, will be the hostname of the machine but is referred to as the "hostname ID" because there are certain situations where you may want to keep your devices hostname while using a different ID for Install Doctor purposes.

Software Definitions

The software / package definitions are all mapped in the software.yml file defined in the root of the Install Doctor repository. The definitions for the Basic, Standard, and Full installations (as well as their desktop-only variants) are all defined in the home/.chezmoidata.yaml file. The Basic definition is found under the _Basic key in the chezmoidata.yaml file and the desktop variant is found under the _Basic-Desktop key in the file.

Depending on whether or not the script detects if the device is a workstation or not (i.e. whether or not it has an active display manager), UI-only tools will be installed. This detection is done in the home/.chezmoi.yaml.tmpl file.

Customizing Software Definitions

If you would like to add more software definitions to the software.yml file, we encourage you to open a pull request and share your work with the Install Doctor community. We regularly analyze and integrate definitions.

If you would like to forego integrating your definitions into the public Install Doctor project, you will most likely want to create your own fork first. Then, you can also create a new file named software-custom.yml alongside the software.yml file. You should follow the same structure in software.yml. During the provisioning process, the installer will detect the presence of this file and merge it into software.yml, overwriting any overlapping keys in favor of the software-custom.yml file.

If you wanted to:

  1. Add a new package that is available via brew install newpackage
  2. Override the existing definition of imagemagick to only install using Homebrew
  3. Only attempt to install imagemagick if the convert command is not available from the terminal

Then, the software-custom.yml file might look like this:

brew: newpackage
_bin: convert
brew: imagemagick

For more details on creating software definitions, refer to the Software customization section of the documentation.

Mapping Software Definitions to Hostname

For truly headless installations that are customized to your software needs on a particular device, you can define a software list that will be used when the device's hostname ID or actual hostname are defined in the home/.chezmoidata.yaml file. You can create the definition by adding a new key to home/.chezmoidata.yaml named __hostname__hostname. You can search for __hostname__office-tmpl to see the list of software that would be installed by Install Doctor if the hostname ID or hostname are equal to office-tmpl.

If you wanted to configure Install Doctor to only install imagemagick on a device with a hostname ID or hostname equal to mycomputer, then you would have to add a section under the softwareGroups key in home/.chezmoidata.yaml that looks like this:

- imagemagick

Note: Even if you declare an empty list in the softwareGroups section, the Install Doctor dotfiles will still unpack (of course) and some other software that Install Doctor depends on will still be installed. Minimizing the installation of dependencies is something we pay careful attention to. Consider adding a feature request if your minimal installation is not to your liking.

Package Manager Preference

Many times, you will find software that can be installed by multiple package managers. In our software.yml file, we try to define every type of installation that is possible. This way, users can choose whether they want to install a package via the built-in system package manager or via Homebrew, for instance.

The default settings of Install Doctor are well-thought. We try to use package managers that are better known for their secure implementations like Flatpaks and Snaps before using installation methods like downloading from GitHub releases.

The order that the installer tries to use is defined in the installerPreference key of the software.yml file. You can customize it using the same method described above by utilizing the software-custom.yml file. For example, if you wanted to configure Ubuntu to only install packages via apt-get or npm and priorize apt-get over npm as the installation method, then you could include the following in your software-custom.yml file:

- apt
- npm

Note: During the installation, the installer will ensure that any package managers required are installed. In other words, if the key in your softwareGroups (from home/.chezmoidata.yaml) contains a software key that is defined in either software.yml or software-custom.yml that only defines brew as a potential package manager to use, then the installer will first ensure Homebrew is installed. The installation of system package managers like apt or dnf are assumed to already be present on the system.

Full Example

If you wanted to customize the Standard install (mentioned above) to also include a package named mypackage and then automatically install that group of software on devices with the hostname of sirius, you would first create the package manager instruction file in software-custom.yml which would look like this:

choco: mypackage-app
brew: mypackage
apt: mypackage-cli

Assuming you do not also modify the installerPreference which defines the order of which package manager to prefer on various systems, the definition above says to:

  1. If the apt package manager is available, install mypackage-cli via apt-get
  2. If apt was not available or not in the installerPreference list for the given system, then install mypackage via Homebrew.
  3. If the system is a Windows system, then install mypackage-app via Chocolatey

Next, you would modify home/.chezmoidata.yaml to include the following (with the ...s omitted):

- *Standard*
- mypackage

Then, with these customizations saved to your fork on GitHub, you would run:


export START_REPO=my-gh-user/my-fork-name
bash <(curl -sSL


$env:START_REPO = 'my-gh-user/my-fork-name'
iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))


export START_REPO=my-gh-user/my-fork-name
qvm-run --pass-io sys-firewall "curl -sSL" > ~/ && bash ~/

Automating the Prompts

Install Doctor allows you to pass many different user-specific and device-specific variables so that you can provision your devices completely headlessly (i.e. without any interaction). You can headlessly provision your devices by leveraging a combination of environment variables and / or encrypted secrets. For instance, if you want to headlessly provision your device the first time you run Install Doctor, then you could run one of the following blocks of code depending on your operating system:

Linux / macOS:

export SOFTWARE_GROUP=Standard-Desktop
export FULL_NAME="Joe Shmoe"
export START_REPO=my-gh-user/my-fork-name
bash <(curl -sSL


$env:SOFTWARE_GROUP = Standard-Desktop
$env:FULL_NAME = 'Joe Shmoe'
$env:START_REPO = 'my-gh-user/my-fork-name'
iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))


export SOFTWARE_GROUP=Standard-Desktop
export FULL_NAME="Joe Shmoe"
export START_REPO=my-gh-user/my-fork-name
qvm-run --pass-io sys-firewall "curl -sSL" > ~/
bash ~/

Customizing Variables / Secrets

For a list of variables that Install Doctor can integrate as well as details on how you can encrypt and store your variables inside your fork of Install Doctor, please refer to the documentation on Secrets.