pypi i pearlcli


Pearl is a lightweight package manager for automating reproducible environments between different systems (Linux and OSX). It can be used for dotfiles, plugins, programs and any form of code accessible via git.

by pearl-core

2.1.1 (see all)License:GNU General Public License v3
pypi i pearlcli


Because only in the best Shells you will find a Pearl...


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Table of Contents


Pearl is a lightweight package manager for automating reproducible environments between different systems (Linux and OSX). It can be used for dotfiles, plugins, programs and any form of code accessible via git.

As soon as a package gets installed, its content can be activated out of the box according to certain events, like, for instance, a shell startup (Bash, Zsh or Fish) or an editor startup (Vim or Emacs). This is possible via a smart and simple hook mechanism that integrates the package content within the Pearl ecosystem.

The main advantages on using Pearl are:

  • Create your own Pearl package in a very simple way.
  • Full control and sync of your dotfiles across different systems.
  • Automatic bootstrap of the package content whenever shells or editors get started.
  • Access to a wide range of existing packages via the OPH (Official Pearl Hub).
  • Allows to create your own shareable package repository.
  • Stable codebase with 100+ unit tests and exhaustive integration tests via Travis for Linux and OSX.
  • Small number of dependencies needed in order to ensure compatibility with most of the systems.

Comparison with similar solution: Ansible

You could achieve something similar from what Pearl provide by using Ansible. Ansible is a powerful software for IT automation which can be widely used for many use cases. Despite of this, Ansible has few drawbacks when using it for lightweight forms of automation:

  • Pearl uses bash for writing simple scripts for automation:
    • it makes easier the integration with other programs in the system (without existing Playbooks may be hard and tedious to achieve this in Ansible);
    • bash is a powerful, accessible and well-known language;
  • Ansible requires way more dependencies than Pearl;
  • Ansible requires knowledge about how Ansible Playbooks works;
  • Pearl uses built-in functions and variables which heavily simplify construction of scripts for automation;
  • Pearl makes easier to remove packages and restore the system to an initial state;


The Pearl command allows to: create, list, search, install, update, emerge, remove the Pearl packages defined according to the configuration located in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/pearl/pearl.conf (defaults to ~/.config/pearl/pearl.conf)



  • Command create helps you create a new local Pearl package:
$ pearl create mydotfiles ~/dotfiles

This will create a directory pearl-config in ~/dotfiles containing all the templates to help you start writing a Pearl package. ~/dotfiles does not need to be an empty directory. Additionally, the local repository in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/pearl/pearl.conf will be updated with the new package entry called mydotfiles.

For more information about the pearl-config content look at the section below.


  • List all the available packages:
$ pearl list
    Awesome git dotfiles (
pearl/sesaila [installed]
    Awesome aliases for Bash, Zsh and Fish shells (
pearl/airline [installed]
    Status/tabline for vim (
pearl/trash-cli [installed]
    Command line interface to the trashcan (
  • Search for vim Pearl packages:
$ pearl search vim
* Updating repository
    Awesome vim dotfiles (


  • Install pearl/dot-vim package (as soon as the package is installed the package is ready out of the box in vim editor!):
$ pearl install dot-vim
* Updating repository
* Installing pearl/dot-vim package
  • Install pearl/trash-cli package:
$ pearl install trash-cli
* Updating repository
* Installing pearl/trash-cli package
$ trash -h
Usage: trash [OPTION]... FILE...

Put files in trash


  • Update pearl/dot-vim package:
$ pearl update dot-vim
* Updating repository
* Updating pearl/dot-vim package
  • Update Pearl and all its packages installed:
$ pearl update
* Updating repository
* Updating Pearl script
* Updating pearl/dot-vim package
* Updating pearl/airline package
* Updating pearl/trash-cli package
* Updating pearl/caprica package


Emerge is an idempotent command for either installing or updating a package depending whether the package is already installed or not. This command turns to be particularly useful for establishing dependencies between packages. See the section below for more details.


  • Remove pearl/dot-vim package:
$ pearl remove dot-vim
* Updating repository
* Removing pearl/dot-vim package
  • Remove Pearl and all its packages installed:
$ pearl remove
Are you sure to REMOVE all the Pearl packages in $PEARL_HOME folder? (N/y)
* Updating repository
* Removing pearl/dot-vim package
* Removing pearl/airline package
* Removing pearl/trash-cli package
* Removing pearl/caprica package

For dotfiles packages take a look here.

Check out the OPH (Official Pearl Hub) for more packages you might be interested.



Before installing Pearl be sure that all dependencies are properly installed in your system. The Pearl dependencies are the following:



The following are not mandatory dependencies but can be handy to have for the hook functions in Pearl package. All the Linux distributions have these dependencies already installed.

Additional shells supported

Pearl supports also the following shells:


Arch Linux

Pearl can be installed in Arch Linux through AUR. The package is pearl-git.

For example, to install Pearl via yay AUR helper:

yay -S pearl-git

Any other AUR helpers can be found here.

Other Linux distributions

Assuming all Pearl dependencies are properly installed in the system, to install Pearl you can use the pip command. Unless there is a specific use case, it is not a good option to use virtual environments such as virtualenv or conda because otherwise Pearl will be only visible within that environment. It is recommended to use the system-wide pip which is generally locate in /usr/bin/pip. The following will install the package in your $HOME directory (~/.local/):

/usr/bin/pip install --user pearlcli
export PATH="~/.local/bin:$PATH"

Pearl command will be located in ~/.local/bin/pearl

To create the $PEARL_HOME directory and the new pearl configuration file from template, run:

pearl init


In order to install all Pearl dependencies, you first need to install Homebrew.

To install all the needed dependencies via Homebrew:

brew update
brew install bash git coreutils grep gnu-sed python

The following will install the package under /usr/local:

/usr/local/bin/pip3 install pearlcli
# If the bin path is not already in $PATH:
export PATH="/usr/local/bin:$PATH"

Pearl command will be located in /usr/local/bin/pearl

To create the $PEARL_HOME directory and the new pearl configuration file from template, run:

pearl init

IMPORTANT NOTE: Pearl gets loaded through ~/.bashrc. The problem is that in OSX, the terminal opens a login shell and only ~/.bash_profile will get executed. Run the following only if ~/.bashrc is not loaded within ~/.bash_profile file:

echo "[[ -f ~/.bashrc ]] && source ~/.bashrc" >> ~/.bash_profile

This will make sure that ~/.bashrc will run at shell startup.

Create your own Pearl package

Any git repository is already a Pearl package. For instance, in order to manage a dotfiles repository in Pearl, you just need to change the Pearl configuration file located in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/pearl/pearl.conf.

Add the following line to pearl.conf file:

    "mydotfiles": {
        "url": "",
        "description": "My dotfiles"

In other words, update the PEARL_PACKAGES dictionary with a new entry containing the name of the package (i.e. mydotfiles), the git url (i.e. and an optional description.

That's it! The package will be ready to be installed, updated, emerged and removed via the Pearl system.

Structure of a Pearl package

Your own git repository can contain an optional directory named pearl-config used by Pearl to integrate the package with the Pearl environment.

/ (package root)
├── pearl-config (optional directory)
│   │
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├── config.bash
│   ├── config.zsh
│   ├──
│   ├── config.vim
│   └── config.el
└── (additional package content)

The files inside pearl-config are also optional scripts:

  • - contains the hooks functions executed during the install, update and remove events.
  • - will be sourced whenever a new Bash/Zsh shell is starting up.
  • config.bash - will be sourced whenever a new Bash shell is starting up.
  • config.zsh - will be sourced whenever a new Zsh shell is starting up.
  • - will be sourced whenever a new Fish shell is starting up.
  • config.vim - will be executed whenever Vim editor is starting up.
  • config.el - will be sourced whenever Emacs editor is starting up.

The following variables can be used in any of the previous scripts:

  • PEARL_HOME - Pearl location ($XDG_DATA_HOME/pearl which by default is $HOME/.local/share/pearl)
  • PEARL_PKGDIR - Pearl package location
  • PEARL_PKGVARDIR - Pearl package location containing data needed for package
  • PEARL_PKGNAME - Pearl package name
  • PEARL_PKGREPONAME - Pearl package repo name (useful to detect and interact with packages within the same repo)

Additionally, the script can use the utility functions available in Buava and Pearl utils directory that make easier the integration with Pearl ecosystem.

Useful examples of Pearl packages can be checked in the Official Pearl Hub.

The script

Hook functions

  • post_install - Called after an installation of the package occurs.
  • pre_update - Called before an update of the package occurs.
  • post_update - Called after an update of the package occurs.
  • pre_remove - Called before a removal of the package occurs.

An script example

post_install() {
    warn "Remember to setup your config located in: ~/.dotfile"
    # Do a smart backup before modifying the file
    backup ${HOME}/.dotfile
    "# New dotfile" > ${HOME}/.dotfile
    link tmux "$PEARL_PKGDIR/mytmux.conf"

    info "Awesome - new package installed!"
    return 0
post_update() {
    return 0
pre_remove() {
    info "dotfiles package removed"
    unlink tmux "$PEARL_PKGDIR/mytmux.conf"

    # Do an idempotent delete
    delete ${HOME}/.dotfile
    return 0

The info and warn are functions that print a message using different colors (namely cyan and yellow).

The link unlink are idempotent functions (the result will not change if the function will be called multiple times) that are able to link/unlink a config file in order to be loaded at startup by a certain program.

The backup keeps the last three backups of the file and do not perform backup if the file has not been modified since the latest backup. The delete is a function for idempotent remove (it will not raise an error if the file no longer exist).

All these functions belong to the Buava package in and to the Pearl script. You can use them inside the to any hook function.

Very important note: All the hook functions must be idempotent (the commands of each hook function must produce the same result even if the command gets executed multiple times). All buava commands are idempotent and this will help to write hook functions very quickly.

Note: For OSX system, the GNU version sed and grep are automatically imported in and can be directly used if needed.

Create a Pearl package from a local directory

Pearl package system will work even for local directories. This is particularly useful whenever a Pearl package needs to be tested before pushing to a git repository.

For instance, the following lines in pearl.conf file will add a package located in /home/joe/dotfiles:

    "mydotfiles": {
        "url": "/home/user/mydotfiles",
        "description": "My dotfiles"

The directory path must be an absolute path.

The package will be ready to be installed, updated, emerged and removed via the Pearl system.

The directory content can be structured in the exact way as described in the section above.

Define dependencies between Pearl packages

Suppose you have a package mypack which depends on another package mydep, you can update the mypack file in this way:

post_install() {
    # Install/update the dependency here:
    pearl emerge ${PEARL_PKGREPONAME}/mydep
post_update() {
pre_remove() {
    # Uncomment below to strictly remove the dependency
    # during the removal of the current package:
    #pearl remove ${PEARL_PKGREPONAME}/mydep

The PEARL_PKGREPONAME variable will make sure to define dependencies only between packages of the same repository. To see a real example in Pearl Hub, take a look at the Kyrat

Use third-party git repository not available in Pearl Hub

If you want to use a third-party git repository that is not available in the Official Pearl Hub, you can:

  • Create your own git repository and use the PEARL_PKGVARDIR directory (recommended)
  • Create your own git repository and use git submodule
  • Point directly to the third-party git repository

To see examples of Pearl packages from third-party git repos take a look at the Official Pearl Hub.

You can use the PEARL_PKGVARDIR directory during the installation phase to install the third-party git repository. This is the best way to incorporate third-party project into Pearl ecosystem.

Here it is an example of file which install the ranger file manager into the directory ${PEARL_PKGVARDIR}/ranger:

function post_install(){
    install_or_update_git_repo "${PEARL_PKGVARDIR}/ranger" master

function post_update(){

function pre_remove(){
    rm -rf ${PEARL_PKGVARDIR}/ranger

The function install_or_update_git_repo comes from the Buava library in which is natively available in Pearl during the installation. You can even use the functions install_git_repo or update_git_repo which respectively install or update the git repository.

For a full example take a look at the ranger Pearl Hub package.

Create your own git repository and use git submodule

Inside your git repository, you just need to add the third-party git repo as a git submodule. For instance, to add the powerline in your Pearl package, you can introduce a submodule in the module directory:

git submodule add module

The filesystem structure of the package will become something like this:

/ (package root)
├── pearl-config   (optional directory)
├── module/        (contains third-party code)
└── (additional package content)

Then, you just need to modify the config scripts in order to integrate the third-party project inside Pearl environment.

Point directly to the third-party git repository

Let's suppose you want to install the vim-rails plugin. In your Pearl configuration ($XDG_CONFIG_HOME/pearl/pearl.conf), add your new Pearl package:

    "vim-rails": {
        "url": "",
        "description": "Ruby on Rails power tools"

Install the package:

pearl install vim-rails

Voila', your new vim plugin is ready to be used!

This approach is particularly useful whenever you do not need to specify any pearl config to "enrich" the third-party project inside the Pearl environment.

Create your own Pearl repository

A Pearl repository is just a git repository containing a file located in pearl-config/pearl.conf with a list of packages. For instance, the OPH repository is available here.

In order to use the new repository (i.e. ""), update the pearl.conf file by adding the following line:



Corrupted Pearl Home directory

Q: What should I do if I accidentally removed files/packages in $PEARL_HOME?

A: You can recover the structure of the $PEARL_HOME by running:

$> pearl init

The command will create all the essential directories and symlinks in $PEARL_HOME. It is harmless to run the init command multiple times since it is idempotent.

Corrupted package

Q: Why I can no longer update/remove a package?

A: This is probably because either one of the hook functions is failing or the package content is corrupted. You can forcely remove the package:

$> pearl remove <packagename>

which bypass hook functions that are failing. If that does not even work, you can delete a package by simply removing its directory:

$> rm -rf $PEARL_HOME/packages/pearl/<packagename>

After that, you can reinstall the package again. The Pearl packages contain a dedicated directory var for storing data needed for the package itself. The var data are always managed by the package and they never gets deleted by Pearl during the package removal. If you want to delete the content in var package:

$> rm -rf $PEARL_HOME/var/pearl/<packagename>

Package shell variables/functions not visible in current shell after installation

Q: Why are not package's environment variables/functions visible in my current shell after installing/updating the package?

A: After package install/update, the variables or functions related to the current shell and defined in pearl-config/config.* may not be available because a reload of Pearl configuration file is required. You can fix this by simply run the function:


which reloads the configuration. The use of such function is not always required but depends whether the variables/functions involve the current shell where the package install/update occurred (i.e. a new variable defined in and the current shell is a bash or zsh). Alternatively, user can always create a new shell and the package resources will be available as expected.

Error during package install

Q: Why Do I get the following error:

Error on executing 'post_install' hook. Rolling back...

A: This occurs when the post_install hook function fails. Pearl will attempt to roll back and force a removal of the package. In this way you can attempt to install the package again once the hook function gets fixed.


You could help improving Pearl and the OPH in the following ways:

Change Log

2.1.1 - 2020-01-13

  • Replace with
    • will still be valid until next releases
  • Fail if no command is specified

2.1.0 - 2020-01-12

  • Add create command
  • Fix procedure to install Pearl in OSX
  • Fix ci to upload to PyPI

2.0.2 - 2020-01-11

  • Add instructions to install Pearl in Arch Linux
  • Fix bug for version option

2.0.1 - 2020-01-11

  • Manual intervention to switch to Pearl v2
  • Codebase re-written in Python
  • Remove the post_remove
  • pearl.conf is not a python script. This requires manual intervention. Take a look at the pearl.conf.template file in codebase
  • pearl-metadata directory is finally deprecated
  • Add --no-confirm option
  • Add --force option
    • This option bypasses failures even during the hook function execution
  • Add --verbose option
    • -vv allows to enable xtrace in hook functions
  • Add --update-repos option
  • Shortcut commands (i.e. i to specify install command) are no longer available
  • Pearl file locations change drastically in order to be complaint with the XDG Base Directory Specification
    • As of now, pearl.conf resides in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/pearl (default ~/.config/pearl)
    • The new location for $PEARL_HOME is $XDG_DATA_HOME/pearl (default ~/.local/share/pearl)
  • Remove the variables $PEARL_ROOT and $PEARL_TEMPORARY

1.8.2 - 2019-10-13

  • Update file

1.8.1 - 2019-07-13

  • Update buava:
    • New view action for setup_configuration helper function

1.8.0 - 2019-06-03

  • Add roll back mechanism during install package
  • Add grep and sed as optional dependencies since they may be used in hook functions
  • Add newer buava:
    • backup function
    • delete function
    • ideavim and gvim dotfiles for (un)link functions
    • install_or_update_vim_plugin_git_repo function
    • Add GNU sed and grep for OSX compat functions

1.7.2 - 2019-01-15

  • Fix variables PEARL_PKGNAME PEARL_PKGREPONAME for vim and emacs boot

1.7.1 - 2018-08-11

  • Deprecate pathogen
  • Ensure to cd when updating package pointing to local directory
  • Fix when package specified with full name does not exist
  • More log info when Git URL package change
  • Proceed even if is syntatically incorrect (prevent block for fixing the broken package)
  • Improve doc and add section about comparison with Ansible

1.7.0 - 2018-07-05

  • Add the idempotent emerge command which update/install packages.
  • No longer support the use of USR1 signal to source the Pearl config to the parent process. To explictly do that run pearl-source command instead.

1.6.3 - 2018-06-22

  • Location of the repo file is pearl-config/pearl.conf. Backward compatibility will be kept until 2.0.0
  • Make the branch name inferred from repo's HEAD rather than hardcode the branch with master

1.6.2 - 2018-06-09

  • Fix boot vim for deprecating pearl-metadata
  • Update doc to use dynamic updates for third-party git repos
  • Add the buava git repo helpers

1.6.1 - 2018-02-04

  • Fix import
  • Fix update Pearl submodules during updates

1.6.0 - 2018-02-03

  • Change directory name to pearl-config. Pearl version 2.0.0 will deprecate pearl-metadata
  • link_to_path to customize symlink name
  • Changes in buava for Pearl configs:
    • osx_detect function to detect the OS platform
    • Improved choose function with indexes
    • Add ssh for [un]link function

1.5.6 - 2017-08-31

  • Fix Integ tests

1.5.5 - 2017-08-31

  • Update Buava:
    • Update download function
    • Add choose, input and contain_elements functions

1.5.4 - 2017-08-28

  • Update Buava:
    • Add download function
    • vimperator gtk2 programs for [un]link functions

1.5.3 - 2017-06-29

  • Add Pear test utils as new dependency
  • Add Bunit as new dependency
  • Add Buava as new dependency
  • Inform about the trap on USR1 signal

1.5.2 - 2017-01-07

  • Add support for new OSX image in Travis
  • Fallback to a default temp directory if tty does not work

1.5.1 - 2016-11-15

  • Fix git --no-parser log for missing newline

1.5.0 - 2016-11-13

  • Provide (un)link from/to in
  • Provide list of last commits during add/update package
  • Fix unlink_from_path when source file is a symlink

1.4.5 - 2016-11-11

  • Provide (un)link from/to PATH variable in

1.4.4 - 2016-09-26

  • Improving doc and add checkstyle

1.4.3 - 2016-05-25

  • Remove the requirement of updating the PATH on OSX

1.4.2 - 2016-05-10

  • Add support for OSX
  • Add check for existing PEARL_HOME variable for emacs/vim boot scripts
  • Add PEARL_HOME/bin directory to have symlinks for the Pearl packages executables
  • Avoid polluting PATH variable by introducing a check first

1.4.1 - 2016-04-30

  • Introduce $PEARL_PKGVARDIR on boot scripts
  • Packages do not need to have master as default branch
  • Change the installation process to avoid pipe bash problem
  • Ensure to get the most updated post_update function
  • Refactor unit tests in

1.4.0 - 2016-04-23

  • Add a dedicated directory $PEARL_PKGVARDIR for the Pearl packages in order to store data needed during the execution of the package itself
  • Add warning in case of an old version of git or bash
  • Introduce $PEARL_PKGDIR environment variable for emacs and vim config files
  • Change the definition of public API

1.3.1 - 2016-04-21

  • Fix compatibility with Bash 4.1
  • Integration tests with fixed Bash and Git versions

1.3.0 - 2016-04-20

  • Provide the definition of public API
  • Add the emacs hook
  • Use a better approach to return values from bash functions
  • Change location of the boot files for and
  • Introduce the standard documentation for functions
  • Use try/catch approach to handle errors

1.2.0 - 2016-04-14

  • Fix the removal of packages by querying the local directory
  • Add (un)link functions for

1.1.0 - 2016-04-09

  • Check if Git URL changed during updates
  • Introduce the template for new Pearl packages
  • Local directories can be used as Pearl packages
  • Add VERSION file

1.0.1 - 2016-04-08

  • Update docs
  • Add travis and integration tests
  • Introduce the installer

1.0.0 - 2016-04-03

  • Initial commit.

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