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=.*/x=7/g' -i file || echo 'x=7' >> file
setconf -a file x=7

The old value may have to be provided when performing replacements with sed.

Also note that the example using sed will not handle variations in whitespace or in choice of assignment symbol.
setconf supports ==, =>, =, :=, :: and :.

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
Arch Linux

pacman -S setconf

See also: package webpage


pkgin install py27-setconf

Or from sources:
cd /usr/pkgsrc/sysutils/py-setconf && make install


emerge -av setconf


zypper install setconf

Void Linux

xbps-install setconf


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 -s | tar JxC /tmp
sudo install -Dm755 /tmp/setconf-0.7.7/ /usr/bin/setconf
sudo install -Dm644 /tmp/setconf-0.7.7/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 0.7.7