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4.1.1 Global Options

These options are available on all commands.

--confdir <arg>

Set the location of the configuration directory (default $HOME/.monotone on Unix and Cygwin, %APPDATA%\monotone% on Windows MinGW). In this manual, references to these specific directories are actually references to the directory specified by --confdir.

The configuration directory is where monotone finds:


in confdir/keys; see Certificates, Generating Keys. The location of the keys directory can be overridden separately with the --keydir option.


which is a per-user configuration file containing Lua code (see rcfiles) that is run each time monotone starts up.

default database

In file confdir/databases/; see Managed Databases.

In addition, monotone may write a dump file to the configuration directory when it fails (if it can’t write to _MTN in a workspace).

--date-format <arg>

strftime(3) format specification for printing dates. The default format is given by the get_date_format_spec hook; the default hook returns %x for dates, %X for times, %x %X for both.

--db <arg>

Set the database to use; defaults to the database specified in the current workspace (stored in _MTN/options; see Storage and workflow), or to nothing if not in a workspace. However, some commands default to a Managed Databases; that is specified in those commands.

An argument of :memory: specifies a memory-only database; any changes are not saved to a file. One use for this is on the client side of a remote automate connection to the server, if you are executing commands that don’t actually need a local database but the automate command requires one.

--dump <arg>

File to dump debugging log to, on failure; default confdir/dump if not in a workspace, _MTN/debug if in a workspace.


Display help information. This is the same as the mtn help command, but note that it can be placed at the end of a command line, while mtn help must be the first non-option on the command line.


Do not ignore revisions marked as suspended; see the mtn suspend command.

--key <arg>

Set the key for signatures or network authentication, using either the key name or the key hash (see Generating Keys).

monotone determines the key to use as follows:

  1. If --key is given, that is the key.
  2. If key is given in _MTN/options, that is the key.

    Each time --key is given, it will be stored in _MTN/options for future use.

  3. For a non-netsync command, the Lua hook get_branch_key is called.

    For a client-side netsync command, the Lua hook get_netsync_client_key is called.

    For a command that starts a monotone server, the Lua hook get_netsync_server_key is used.

    If any of the aforementioned hooks returns non-nil, the return value is the name of the key.

  4. If there is only one key in the keydir, that is the key.
  5. Otherwise there is no key; an error occurs.
--keydir <arg>

Set the key directory (where the “key store” is located); default is confir/keys.

--log <arg>

Specifiy a file to which the log (consisting of all debug, informational, and warning messages) is written; default is the stderr process output.


Do not load the built-in rcfile with the default hooks. This means all hooks will have null definitions (unless overridden by other rcfiles).


Don’t use a default confdir; --confdir must be specified if a configuration file is needed.


Don’t use the format provided by a previous --date-format, nor the format returned by get_date_format_spec; instead, print dates in the format “yyyy-mm-ddThh:mm:ss”.


Do not load the standard rcfiles, which are $HOME/.monotone/monotonerc on Unix or %APPDATA%\monotone\monotonerc on Windows, and _MTN/monotonerc in the current workspace. See rcfiles.


Don’t look for a workspace; this means options that normally get their default values from the workspace will not have those default values.


Do not prompt the user for input; fail instead. For example, don’t prompt for a key passphrase, or when doing a merge, do not start the external merger to resolve a conflict.


Decrease or increase verbosity. There are four levels of verbosity; debug, information, warning, and none. The default is information.

--rcfile <arg>

Specify an extra rcfile to load. See rcfiles.


Cancel all previous --rcfile options (standard rcfiles are still loaded). See rcfiles.

--root <arg>

Limit the search for a workspace to the specified root directory

--ssh-sign <arg>

Controls use of ssh-agent. Valid arguments are: ’yes’ to use ssh-agent to make signatures if possible, ’no’ to force use of monotone’s internal code, ’only’ to force use of ssh-agent, ’check’ to sign with both and compare.

--ticker <arg>

Set ticker style; one of ’count’, ’dot’, or ’none’


Show timestamps in front of error, warning, and progress messages.


Print version number, then exit; same as mtn version.

--xargs <arg>
-@ <arg>

Insert command line arguments taken from the given file. A ’-’ can be used to read the arguments from standard input. e.g. --xargs=-

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