What is it?

setconf is a small utility that can be used for changing settings in configuration textfiles.

What can it do?

If there's a textfile with fields like these:

    lights := on
    compile_today: true

setconf can change the values to something else. It will take the first key it finds and change the value.

setconf can also change values that span over multiple lines, by adding an end string as the last parameter. A typical end string would be ')' or ']'.


You are writing a PKGBUILD for Arch and wish to change a setting without using sed.
Let's say you want to change CC from abc to gcc and that "CC=gcc make" doesn't cut it, for some reason.

Then you can use the following command:

setconf Makefile CC gcc


Syntax comparison

Setting a value:

sed -i filename 's/key=oldvalue/key=value/g'


setconf filename key value

Setting a value, adding the key and value if missing and creating the file if missing:

grep -q 'x=' file 2>/dev/null && sed 's/x=2/x=7/g' -i file || echo 'x=7' >> file


setconf -a file x=7

Note that the example using sed will not handle variations in whitespace or in choice of assignment symbol.
setconf supports ==, =>, =, :=, :: and :. Also note that the old value has to be provided if performing replacements with sed.

Which arguments are supported?

setconf ordinarily takes a filename, key and a new value for that key.
One can also give an optional end string, for replacing multiline values.
It's also possible to add lines with -a or --add.

See the man page or --help output for more information.

Source code and bug tracker

The source and issue tracker is available at github.

git clone git://


Arch Linux

pacman -S setconf

See also: package webpage


It's recommended to install setconf with your distros package management system.

Here is a quick, manual way of installing the latest version of setconf:

	curl -o- | tar JxC /tmp
	sudo install -Dm755 /tmp/setconf-0.6.3/ /usr/bin/setconf
	sudo install -Dm644 /tmp/setconf-0.6.3/setconf.1.gz /usr/share/man/man1/setconf.1.gz

Run the two last commands as root instead of with sudo, if you prefer.


Download the Nuitka-compatible source for setconf 0.6.3
Alexander F Rødseth 2014