TLDR: Can I pre-define a stow folder other than /usr/local with GNU Stow?

I do not have admin privileges on the machine I use for work, and I was told that I could use GNU Stow to manage my installations. The tool looks great, but everywhere in the documentation I read that stow uses /usr/local as the installation directory where it builds the symlink farm.

Unfortunately this folder was already populated by root, and I do not have write privileges on anything under /usr/local.

There is a flag -t that I can use in the command line to specify the target directory, but since I will always be using the same (I want my installations to consistently be under the same target directory), I was wondering if there is a way to use a default path of my choice.

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    Did you read the INSTALL file? What have you tried? I'd never even heard of GNU Stow before, but I found the various prefix options in less than 5 mins.
    – depquid
    Apr 13, 2013 at 20:59
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    Thanks @depquid, the only thing I found is the command line flag --t that I can pass to stow to specify the target directory. I am looking for something that is a bit more persistent (perhaps an environment variable). From what I read, the STOW_DIR environment variable specifies the stow directoryand not the target directory. Apr 13, 2013 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


You can configure a default target via the .stowrc file; please see this section of the manual. If there is a compelling reason for needing to also set the default target directory via an environment variable, I can implement that for the next release too.

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    It would actually be really nice to be able to use environment variables within the .stowrc. For example, I like to put my stow files in my home directory so it looks something like --dir=/my/home/stow. It would be nice to share this file between computers using something like --dir=$HOME/stow.
    – Ben Sidhom
    Mar 9, 2014 at 5:40
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    Good idea; feel free to submit a bug. Mar 10, 2014 at 11:13

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