setconf - Man Page

change settings in configuration textfiles


setconf filename key value [end string for a multiline value]


If there's a textfile with fields like these:


lights := on

compileToday: true

anumber = 42

cabal ==1.2.3

Setconf can change the values to something else. The value related to the first key found will be changed to the given value.

For example, CC is a key and gcc is a value.


 Exits with error code 1

setconf Makefile.defaults NETSURF_USE_HARU_PDF NO
 In Makefile.defaults, set NETSURF_USE_HARU_PDF to NO

setconf Makefile CC gcc
 Sets CC=gcc in Makefile

setconf PKGBUILD sha256sums "('123abc' 'abc123')" ')'
 In the PKGBUILD file, set the value for the sha256sums keys to
 ('123abc' 'abc123') regardless of how many lines the previous value
 spans, since the end string ')' is given.

setconf NUMS "[1, 2, 3]" ']'
 Multiline replacement, replacing the text from the value belonging
 to the key NUMS to the endstring ] with the value [1, 2, 3],
 regardless of how many lines the previous value spans.

setconf my.conf x=1
 Sets x to 1 in my.conf, even if my.conf uses a different assignment,
 like x := 42, x : 42, x == 42, x :: 42 or x => 42.

setconf -a server.ini 'Z => 99'
 Adds Z => 99 to server.ini

setconf --add rolling.conf N 1000
 Adds N=1000. Creates the file if needed.

setconf test.file y-=0.1
 Decreases y with 0.1.

setconf values.conf x+=2
 Increases x with 2.

setconf -d linux/printk.h CONSOLE_LOGLEVEL_DEFAULT=4
 Changes #define CONSOLE_LOGLEVEL_DEFAULT to 4

setconf -u kernel_config CONFIG_ULTRIX_PARTITION=y
 Uncomment and set CONFIG_ULTRIX_PARTITION=y, even if the original
 value is suffixed by "is not set". Intended for use with Linux kernel


-v or--version

displays the current version number

-h or --help

displays brief usage information

-t or --test

performs internal self testing

-a or --add

adds an option, if not already present. Must be followed by a filename and a key/value pair.

-d or --define

changes a single-line #define value

-u or --uncomment

uncomments a key before changing the value


Aims to solve a tiny problem properly instead of a thousand problems halfway, in true UNIX-spirit

Creates a line that is very easy to read, as opposed to using sed for the same task

It should be clear from the syntax what is being done

Only one small executable, not a big package

See Also

sed(1) make(1)


Only unknown bugs so far. Bugs can be reported at




setconf was written by Alexander F. Rødseth <> + contributors


06 Jul 2020