Using your ship

Your urbit (also called your ship) is a persistent Unix process that you mainly control from the console.


You can turn your urbit off with Ctrl-d from the Chat or Dojo prompts.

You can force-quit your urbit with Ctrl-z from anywhere.


To restart your urbit simply pass the name of your pier:

$ ./urbit some-planet


$ ./urbit comet


To log an urbit's command line output to a file, use script:

$ script urbit.log ./urbit your-urbit

Moving your pier

Piers are designed to be portable, but it must be done while the urbit is not running. Urbit networking is stateful, so you can't run two copies of the same urbit in two places.

To move a pier, simply move the contents of the directory it lives in. To keep these files as small as possible we usually use the --sparse option in tar. With a pier your-urbit/, something like this should work:

tar -Scvzf ~/your-urbit.tar.gz ~/your-urbit/
scp your-old-server:~/your-urbit.tar.gz your-new-server:~

Then to unzip it, on your other Unix server, run:

tar xfvz your-urbit.tar.gz

Delete the tar file, and, after installing Urbit on your new server, start your urbit back up with:

./urbit your-urbit

Hardware requirements

Urbit can run on any x86 computer (unofficial, unsupported ARM binaries are also available), ideally with at least 2GB of RAM.

Urbit maintains a persistent log of the history of your ship. Eventually this log will be automatically trimmed when necessary, but for now it only increases in size. An actively used planet will consume 5-50 GB of storage space per year of operation.


Your Urbit terminal is separated into two parts: the prompt (the bottom line) and the record (everything above that). The record is shared; all the output from all the apps in your command set appears in it. The prompt is multiplexed.

In the CLI, Urbit apps can process your input before you hit return. To see this in action try entering ) as the first character at the Dojo prompt. Since there is no Dojo command or Hoon expression that starts with ')', the Dojo rejects it.

Ctrl-x - Switches the prompt between running console apps

Ctrl-c - Crash current event. Processed at the Unix layer and prints a stack trace.

Ctrl-d - From Chat or Dojo, stops your Urbit process.

Ctrl-z - Stops the Urbit process from anywhere.

/ - History navigation

The following emacs-style key bindings are available:

Ctrl-a    Cursor to beginning of the line (Home)
Ctrl-b    Cursor one character backward (left-arrow)
Ctrl-e    Cursor to the end of the line (End)
Ctrl-f    Cursor one character forward (right-arrow)
Ctrl-g    Beep; cancel reverse-search
Ctrl-k    Kill to end of line
Ctrl-l    Clear the screen
Ctrl-n    Next line in history (down-arrow)
Ctrl-p    Previous line in history (up-arrow)
Ctrl-r    Reverse-search
Ctrl-t    Transpose characters
Ctrl-u    Kill to beginning of line
Ctrl-y    Yank from kill buffer


By default, you will automatically receive updates (OTAs) from your sponsor. To check your OTA source, run |ota in the dojo.

If for some reason (for example, if your sponsor is out of date), you can switch OTA sources by running |ota ~otasrc %kids in the dojo, where ~otasrc is the ship from which you want to receive updates. It is a good idea to contact the source ship and ask permission to sync from them.

If OTAs are not succeeding, or if you are on an version of Urbit before the |ota command was introduced, you can run |merge %home (sein:title our now our) %kids, =gem %take-that. Note: This will wipe out any custom changes to the base distribution.


On startup Urbit tries to bind to localhost:80. If you're already running something on port 80 -- such as any other HTTP server, or another urbit -- you'll find the urbit that you just started on 8080, 8081, and so on. For planets only, we also proxy web domains through Urbit's own servers. Any planet ~your-urbit is also at, but only after you set up DNS.

Once running, you can sign into Landscape, your ship’s web interface, from http://localhost or Since our HTTPS isn't audited / battle tested, we just call it "secure" HTTPS. You can find that on 8443. Or 8444 (and so on) if you're already running something on 8443.


Planets can spawn moons, which are meant for connected devices: phones, smart TVs, digital thermostats. The basic idea is that your planet runs permanently in a data center somewhere, while moons run on all your devices. Each planet can issue ~4 billion (2^32) moons.

To generate a random moon from your planet, run:

~sampel-palnet:dojo> |moon
moon: ~faswep-navred-sampel-palnet
\/                                                                                                 \/

You must manually edit the output of |moon to get the correct format for the <key>:

<key> would be 0w5cT5t.wCO6i.~e1xg.Oz0qb.QNO6I.3Kt2T.h9M9F.U3vU~.X3Qu0.gtb19.IYTkY.80kWZ.SIEUE.DXa8i.TiDof.o3-1C.RHLKS.k81M0.ecz5o.ic0Bg.600g1 in this example.

Put <key> in a file and that file becomes <keyfile>.

You can use the resulting output in the same installation flow from the Installing Urbit guide, following the same scheme as for booting a planet. That scheme is:

$ ./urbit -w <moonname> -G <key> -c <piername>


$ ./urbit -w <moonname> -k <keyfile> -c <piername>

The -c <piername> argument is not required, but it is recommended; otherwise, the resulting directory is a rather unwieldy moon name.

Here's how an example moon might be booted:

$ ./urbit -w faswep-navred-sampel-palnet -G <key> -c mymoon


$ ./urbit -w faswep-navred-sampel-palnet -k <keyfile> -c mymoon

Moons are automatically synced to their parent %kids desk, and can control applications on their parent planet using |link.

To breach a moon -- that is, to reset its presence on the network so that it's treated as a freshly spawned ship by others -- run from the parent ship:

|moon-breach ~faswep-navred-sampel-palnet

To cycle the keys of a moon without breaching, run:

|moon-cycle-keys ~sampel-sipnym-wicdev-wisryt

Escaping A Sponsor

To use the network as a planet or star, you must be sponsored by an active star or galaxy, respectively. If your sponsor isn't suiting your needs, you can escape to a different one. This can be done with Bridge following the instructions here.

Continuity breaches

While the Urbit network is in this alpha state, we sometimes have to reboot the whole network. This happens either when major changes need to be shipped or we hit a bug that can't be fixed over the air.

Because Urbit networking is stateful we call this a continuity breach. Everything has to be restarted from scratch. Your pier will continue to function after we have breached, but it won’t connect to the rest of the Urbit network.

When this happens, back up any files you'd like to save, shut down your urbit, and recreate it (as if you were starting for the first time).

Life and rift number

You can check your ship's life and rift number by running +keys our in dojo. You can inspect another ship's life and rift number by running +keys ~sampel-palnet. For information on what life and rift are, see Guide to Breaches.

DNS proxying

We have a system that lets you request a domain name for your ship in the form of, where ship is your ship's name minus the ~. This allows users to access their ships remotely using Landscape, our graphical web interface.

Stars and planets follow the same process DNS proxying process, and galaxies have their own requirements. Moons and comets are not supported.

Planets and Stars

For a planet or star's DNS proxying request to be made and fulfilled, they must be hosting their ship someplace with a public IP address, and its HTTP server must be listening on port 80.

To get on a planet or star, you must set up DNS routing with its parent ship by starting the :dns app.

To do so, simply run this command in your ship's Dojo, passing the IP address as an argument, using the . (@if) syntax. For example:

> -dns-address &dns-address [%if .]

:dns, running locally, will make an HTTP request to that IP address on port 80 to confirm that it is itself available at that IP and port. If that fails, you'll receive a %bail-early message in :chat-cli; this request will retry a few times. If the self-check is successful, the request is relayed to ~zod, and you'll receive a message saying, request for DNS sent to ~zod. Once ~zod has acknowledged receipt of the request, your local :dns app will send a :chat-cli message saying awaiting response from ~zod.

The request will be picked up shortly, and the DNS record will be set to the given IP address. Once that's set up, ~zod will be notified and ~zod will, in turn, notify your ship. That ship will now try to verify that it can reach itself on over port 80. If it can't, it'll send a message saying, unable to access via If it can, it will configure itself with that domain and say confirmed access via

Great! You're set up now. Try accessing your in your browser to use Landscape; we recommend Chrome or Brave.


Galaxies are already required to have separate DNS entry at There's no automated process for getting that binding, so if you're a galaxy-holder, get in touch with us at

There is a command for galaxies that will try to re-use their already-necessary Ames DNS entry for HTTPS:

> -dns-auto

This will make HTTP-requests to self-check availability over galaxy.$AMES-DOMAIN (currently, where galaxy is the galaxy's name minus the ~.

Otherwise, -dns-auto works the same as :dns|ip does with stars and planets: if it's available or unavailable, Chat messages, and so on.

More information

Configuring a ship's domain causes the :acme app to request an HTTPS certificate for that domain from LetsEncrypt. Note that LetsEncrypt also requires that the HTTP server be listening on port 80. If the certificate request fails, :acme will send a :chat-cli message with an explanation. Once the certificate is successfully retrieved, :acme will install it, causing the HTTP servers to restart. A secure server will be started on port 443 (the HTTPS default) if it's available. Otherwise, it will try 8443, and then increment to the next port until it can successfully bind one.

The built-in logic for listening on port 80 is similar. Urbit tries to bind port 80; if it cannot, it tries 8080, then increments until it can bind a port. Port 80 is available to unprivileged process on recent version of macOS. Otherwise, the process needs to either be run as root, or be given special permission (CAP_NET_BIND on Linux).


Let’s get started using the :chat-cli application, also known more simply as Chat. It's the simplest way to talk to people using the command line interface.


The most common use for :chat-cli right now is, of course, communicating in group chats.

Joining a chat

In :chat-cli, any kind of medium for a message is called a chat. There are four "types" of chats, but for now we'll be dealing with the channel, a publicly accessible chatroom for general use. We'll discuss the other three kinds in the chat management section later on.

Join the Urbit Community from Dojo using :group-store|join ~bitbet-bolbel/urbit-community. Once you've joined, join the General chat from chat-cli. Use ctrl-x to switch from the Dojo prompt to the Chat prompt.


~sampel-palnet:chat-cli/ ;join ~darrux-landes/general

Now that you're in, try post a line to ~darrux-landes/general:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli= Hello, world!

You'll see your message printed below messages from others that came before it. You can always type ;chats in the chat-cli prompt to list all the chats you're in:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli= ;chats

Glyphs will be automatically assigned to channels, but have the option of binding a glyph (single non-alphanumeric character) to the channel you're joining; the syntax is in the form of ;join ~/~dopzod/books +. The chosen glyph will be the symbol that ends your prompt, and it will be what you use as a shortcut to switch to this channel.

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli= ;+

Use ;leave to unsubscribe from a channel:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli= ;leave ~darrux-landes/general

Now, let's create a channel we can invite some friends to:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli= ;create channel /my-channel

Now you can tell your friends to ;join ~your-urbit/my-channel.

In order to see messages in :chat-cli you may need to do the following in Dojo:

:chat-cli %connect


You can use Chat to evaluate Hoon code and share the results with everyone in a chat. To do so, preface your Hoon with #.

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli= #(add 2 2)

This will print as:

~sampel-palnet# (add 2 2)


To share a URL, send it as its own message, with no content before or after it.


This will print as:


Expanding messages

In the case of URLs, they may be too long to display on a single message line. For Hoon code, the code or result could be big. In :chat-cli, these get shortened when initially printed out. To view the entire contents, you can select the message in various ways.

~sampel-palnet+ some message
~sampel-palnet+ let's try selecting this message!
~sampel-palnet+ another message

In the above example, we can select the middle message by issuing any of the following command:


;n looks for the last message whose sequence number ends in n. ;; simply picks the second-to-last message.

Detailed message output will look something like this:

? 240
  0v5.g7r7l.n0d7m.mp4bn.gp6vr.sm5lj at ~2019.10.17..22.08.27..8a03
  to ~dopzod/urbit-help
let's try selecting this message!

Creating and managing chats

As mentioned before, any urbit can host any number of chats. Existing chats can be deleted or modified with various commands. All commands in this section should be sent from the chat-cli> prompt.


Syntax: ;create [type] /name +, where + represents an optional glyph.

Creates and joins a chat, where [type] is any of the following:

Let's create an example mailbox:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;create mailbox /coolbox ^


Syntax: ;delete /name

Deletes a chat.

Permission management

You can permit and ban people from reading and/or writing to the chats you host, using ;invite and ;banish command respectively.

Syntax: ;invite [rw] /name ~ships

Where rw is either r, w, or rw, representing "read" and "write" permissions. And where ~ships is a comma-seperated list of ships to invite.

For example, to grant two people full access to a village we created:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;invite rw /hidden-village ~ravmel-ropdyl, ~rapfyr-diglyt

Similarly, if we later want to revoke the writing permissions for one of them, but still allow them to read new messages, we can run:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;banish w /hidden-village ~rapfyr-diglyt

Chat glyphs

Glyphs are found at the end of your prompt, as a quick indicator of where your messages will be sent.

Glyphs are assigned by chat hash out of the following list:

! @ # $ % ^ & ( ) - = _ + [ ] { } ; ' \ : " , . < > ?

Alphanumeric characters and |#/*~ are reserved; all others can be manually assigned.

For example, - the glyph at the end of the prompt below might indicates that messages sent from this prompt will go to some chat with that glyph:


To see what chat is bound to a glyph, use the ;what command followed by the glyph in question, or use ;what without specifying a glyph to see all of your subscriptions which are bound to glyphs. For example, to see =:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;what =

To see all of your glyph bindings:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;what
> ~paldev/numismatic-forum
. ~middev/ny-martians
= ~dopzod/urbit-help

When the messaging target doesn't have a glyph, we see their name at the end of the prompt instead. Here we're talking into ~dannum-mitryl/homework:



Syntax: ;bind [glyph] ~host/chat-name

Assigns the chosen glyph to a chat.

For example:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;bind + ~dopzod/urbit-help


Syntax: ;unbind [glyph] ~host/chat-name

Unassigns the chosen glyph from a chat owned by your ship.

For example:

~sampel-palnet:chat-cli> ;unbind + ~dopzod/urbit-help

If you don't specify a chat, all bindings for that glyph are removed.


Received posts are prefixed with a glyph to let you know what the audience is. You can activate an individual post to see the full audience.

There are a few special-purpose "glyphs":


Set audience


Set audience to ~ship/chat.

Set audience by glyph

Syntax: ;[glyph]

Set audience to the chat previously bound to the chosen glyph.

Set audience to own chat

Syntax: ;/chat

Set audience to a chat on your own ship.

Miscellaneous configuration

Change timezone

Syntax: ;set timezone [+/-][hours]

Adjust the display of timestamps to a specific timezone. Relative to UTC.

Set width

Syntax: ;set width [number]

Set the rendering width of :chat-cli to a specific number of characters. (Minimum of 30.)

Show timestamps

Syntax: ;set showtime

Show the timestamp for each message. This is set by default.

Hide timestamps

Syntax: ;unset showtime

Stop showing the timestamp for each message.

Sound notification on

Syntax: ;set notify

Emit a terminal bell sound if your six-syllable ship name is mentioned in a message. This is set by default.

Sound notification off

Syntax ;unset notify

Do not notify when your ship name is mentioned.


Amazon S3, which stands for Amazon Simple Storage Service, is a technology that was introduced by Amazon Web Services for cloud storage that has since been extended more broadly into a standard programming interface.

Our S3 support lets you store credentials for your S3 object storage buckets on your Urbit ship; once you have done so, you will get additional functionality for uploading your own media within Chat and Groups (for avatars).

To enable S3 support on your ship you'll need to first set up a bucket, and then add its credentials to Landscape using either Landscape or the Dojo.

Bucket Setup

If you’re using AWS, it will have to support signature v2, not v4. We've found DigitalOcean's Spaces to work well also. The bucket has to be publicly readable, allow CORS from * origins, allow GET and PUT methods, and allow * headers. Your provider should have details on setting access permissions and CORS.

Add your credentials: Landscape

Navigate to your https://<your-ship-url>/~profile/settings, or click your sigil in the upper-right corner of the window. Fill out the S3 Credentials and S3 Buckets sections and you're all set!

Add your credentials: Dojo

Once you have gotten your bucket setup, poke the s3-store on your ship with your details. You can do this in Dojo or in web Dojo.

:s3-store|set-endpoint ''
:: AWS endpoint example:
:: Digital Ocean endpoint example:
:s3-store|set-access-key-id 'MYACCESSKEYID'
:s3-store|set-secret-access-key 'MYSECRETACCESSKEY'
:s3-store|set-current-bucket 'yourbucketname'

Done! If you need to peek at s3-store’s state, you can always run :s3-store +dbug (inside Dojo, not web Dojo, unfortunately). You’ll see the additional functionality appear in Groups and Chat.


The Dojo is our shell; it processes system commands and returns output. It's a good place to quickly experiment with Urbit. On the surface the Dojo is just a Hoon REPL. On the inside, the Dojo is a system for operating on and transforming data in Urbit.


You can use the Dojo to run arbitrary Hoon code, as well as non-Hoon system commands.


Evaluate a Hoon expression (whitespace matters):

~your-urbit:dojo> (add 2 2)
~your-urbit:dojo> %+  add  2  2

Tall-form Hoon may require multiple lines:

~your-urbit:dojo> %+  add
~your-urbit:dojo< 2
~your-urbit:dojo< 2

Hoon uses something called the subject. The Dojo has its own subject and that's where Hoon's equivalent of variables, called faces, are stored.

Use =var to save faces to the Dojo subject.

~your-urbit:dojo> =foo (add 2 2)

Note, however, that =var is Dojo syntax, not Hoon syntax. You cannot bind a face in a .hoon file in this way.

System commands

Use =dir to set the current working directory:

~your-urbit:dojo> =dir %/gen

(% represents your current directory. For a complete explanation on urbit paths, see the filesystem section.)

Generators (files in /gen) are run with +:

~your-urbit:dojo> +hello 'world'

Save output to a file in %clay with *:

~your-urbit:dojo> *some/file/path/hoon 'hello world'

Run system commands from :hood, like reload, using |:

~your-urbit:dojo> |reload %eyre


Generators are short Hoon scripts, saved as .hoon files in the /gen directory. Many Dojo commands exist in the form of generators. The syntax for running a generator is +genname for a generator saved as genname.hoon.


Accepts a path and displays the file. Similar to Unix cat.

~your-urbit:dojo> +cat %/gen/curl/hoon


Generates a code that is used to remotely log into your ship. No arguments.

~your-urbit:dojo> +code

You can change your code to a new randomly generated one by entering |code %reset. Please note that this will prevent Bridge from being able to derive your code in the future.


Retrieves data from a URL. Accepts a tape. Similar to Unix curl.

~your-urbit:dojo> +curl ""


Just prints the argument. Accepts a @ta.

~your-urbit:dojo> +hello 'mars'


Similar to Unix ls. Accepts a path.

~your-urbit:dojo> +ls %/gen
~your-urbit:dojo> +ls /~talsur-todres/home/2/gen/program


Compile the current state of the kernel and output a noun. Usually downloaded to a file in unix. No arguments.

~your-urbit:dojo> .urbit/pill +solid


Testrunner. Can test multiple generators at once, conventionally ones in the /test folder. Takes a path.

~your-urbit:dojo> +test /lib


Generate a ticket for an urbit ship. Takes an urbit name (@p).

~your-urbit:dojo> +ticket ~talsur-todres-your-urbit


Generate a recursive directory listing. Takes a path.

~your-urbit:dojo> +tree %/sys


The hood is the system daemon. See gen/hood and app/hood.

|hi - Sends a direct message. Sort of like Unix write. Accepts an urbit name (@p) and a string (tape, which is text wrapped with double-quotes).

~your-urbit:dojo> |hi ~binzod "you there?"

|link / |unlink - Link / unlink a remote app. Accepts an Urbit name and an app name.

~your-urbit:dojo> |link ~talsur-todres %octo

|mass - Prints the current memory usage of all the kernel modules. No arguments.

~your-urbit:dojo> |mass

|reload - Reloads a kernel module (vane) from source. Accepts any number of vane names.

~your-urbit:dojo> |reload %clay %eyre

|reset - Reloads hoon.hoon and all modules. No arguments.

~your-urbit:dojo> |reset

|start - Starts an app. Accepts an app name.

~your-urbit:dojo> |start %curl

Dojo manual

Sources and sinks

A Dojo command is either a source or a sink. A source is just something that can be printed to your console or the result of some computation. A sink is an effect: a change to the filesystem, a network message, a change to your environment, or a typed message to an app.

Sources can be chained together, but we can only produce one effect per command.


= - Set variable

Set any environment variable:

~your-urbit:dojo> =foo 42
~your-urbit:dojo> (add 2 foo)


Make sure to note that =var is Dojo syntax, not Hoon syntax. You cannot bind a variable in a .hoon file in this way.

Special variables

There are a few special variables that the Dojo maintains.

: - Send to app

:app goes to a local app, :~ship/app goes to the app on ~ship.

Send a helm-hi message to hood:

~your-urbit:dojo> :hood &helm-hi 'hi'

Apps usually expect marked data, so & is often used here.

* - Save in %clay

Save a new .hoon file in gen:

~your-urbit:dojo> *%/gen/foo/hoon '# hello'

The last component of the path is expected to be the mark (or mime type).

. - Export to Unix

Export a noun to Unix with .:

~your-urbit:dojo> .foo/bar/baz (add 2 2)

Which creates a file at pier/.urb/put/foo/bar.baz.

This is very often used with +solid:

~your-urbit:dojo> .urbit/pill +solid

Which outputs a new urbit.pill to pier/.urb/put/urbit.pill


_ - Run a function

Use _ to run a gate (or function):

Write an arbitrary function and pass data to it:

~your-urbit:dojo> _|=([a=@] (mul a 3)) 3

Use a function to get the status code from an http request:

~your-urbit:dojo> _|=([p=@ud q=* r=*] p) +

+ - - HTTP requests

+http[s]:// - sends a GET request

+http[s]:// &json [%s 'hi'] - sends a POST request with the JSON "hi" in the body.

-http[s]:// &json [%s 'hi'] - sends a PUT request with the JSON "hi" in the body.

Note that the first of these is a source while the last two are sinks.

+ - Generators

Generators are simple Hoon scripts loaded from the filesystem. They live in gen/.

An example of a generator that is built into your urbit is +code. It produces the code needed to log into your ship remotely.

~your-urbit:dojo> +code


You can use = to set an environment variable in Dojo, but there are a few reserved names that have special uses.


Current working %clay desk and revision. Read / write.


~your-urbit:dojo> =dir %/gen
~your-urbit:dojo> +ls %
404/hoon docs/ dojo/hoon lib/ listen/hoon md static/udon talk/ testing/udon tree/main/ unmark/ womb/


Current set of libraries (/lib) in your environment. Can be set with /+. Read / write.


~your-urbit:dojo> /+  number-to-words

Now we can use arms from lib/number-to-words.hoon

~your-urbit:dojo> (to-words:eng-us:number-to-words 123.456)


Current set of structures (/sur) in your environment. Can be set with /-. Read / write.


~your-urbit:dojo> /-  sole

Now we can use arms in sur/sole.hoon.

~your-urbit:dojo> `sole-effect:sole`[%bel ~]


The current (128-bit @da) time. Read-only.


~your-urbit:dojo> now


The current urbit ship. Read-only.


~your-urbit:dojo> our


512 bits of entropy. Read-only.


~your-urbit:dojo> eny


If you encounter %dy-edit-busy while entering commands, it is because your Dojo is blocked on a timer or an HTTP request. Type backspace and your Dojo will end the blocked command.


Urbit has its own revision-controlled filesystem, Clay. Clay is a typed, global, referentially transparent namespace. An easy way to think about it is like typed git.

The most common way to use Clay is to mount a Clay node in a Unix directory. The mounted directory is always at the root of your pier directory.


This quick-start guide will walk you through some common commands. Follow along using your Dojo. When you get a >= message after entering a command, this means that the command was successful.

It's important to note that whenever you want to sync changes from your Unix directory to your ship, you must use the |commit %desk command, where %desk is the desk that you'd like to sync to.

When developing it's a good idea to use a separate desk. Create a %sandbox desk based on the %home desk:

~your-urbit:dojo> |merge %sandbox ~your-urbit %home

Running our produces your ship-name, meaning that you can run the following command instead of typing out the entire thing. Useful for comets due to their very long names.

~your-urbit:dojo> |merge %sandbox our %home

Most of the time we want to use Clay from Unix. Mount the entire contents of your sandbox desk to Unix:

~your-urbit:dojo> |mount /=sandbox=

To explore the filesystem from inside Urbit +ls and +cat are useful. +ls displays files in the current directory, and +cat displays the contents of a file.

We can use % to mean "current directory." The result of the command below is just like using ls in a Unix terminal.

~your-urbit:dojo> +ls %

Notice how +cat % does the same thing. That's because everything in Clay, including directories, is a file.

Sync from your friend ~some-ship's %experiment desk to your %sandbox desk:

~your-urbit:dojo> |sync %sandbox ~some-ship %experiment

If and when your sync is successful, you will receive a message:

activated sync from %experiment on ~some-ship to %sandbox

The ship that you sync from will get their own message indicating that you're both connected as peers:

; ~your-urbit is your neighbor.

Clay manual


A path in Clay is a list of URL-safe text, restricted to the characters [a z],[0 9], ., -, _, and ~. Formally this is a (list knot), meaning that each segment, delineated by /, is of the knot ASCII-text type. In other words, paths are expressed as /foo/bar/baz. File extensions are separated from file names with /, not .. Extensions are syntactically identical to subdirectories, except that they must terminate the path.

Paths begin with a piece of data called a beak. A beak is formally a (p=ship q=desk r=case); it has three components, and might look like /~dozbud-namsep/home/11.

The first beak component is ship, which is, as you might guess, the name of an Urbit ship. The second component is desk, which is a workspace meant to contain other directories; the default desk is %home. The third component is case, which represents version information in various ways: date and time; a version sequence, which is a value incremented by one whenever a file on the given desk is modified; or an arbitrary plaintext label.

You can find what your beak is at any given moment by typing % in the Dojo and looking at the first three results.

We use beaks because, unlike the current internet, the Urbit network uses a global namespace. That means that a file named example.hoon in the /gen directory on the %home desk of your ship ~lodleb-ritrul would have a universal address to anyone else on the network: /~lodleb-ritrul/home/186/gen/example/hoon. That, of course, doesn't mean that everyone on the network has privileges to access that path.

The structure that combines a beak with further path information is called a beam.

Relative paths

The % command, which we gestured at in the above section, represents the relative path, which is the path where you are currently working. If your working directory is just your home desk, indicated by the prompt ~your-planet:dojo>, then running the command below will print your working directory's beam information: your beak, and a ~ that represents the empty list since no path is present.

~your-urbit:dojo> %

%s can be stacked to indicate one level further up in the hierarchy for each additional %. Try the following command:

~your-planet:dojo> %%%

You'll probably notice that it only has your ship name and the empty list. The two additional %s abandoned the case and the desk information by moving up twice the hierarchy.

There are no local relative paths. /foo/bar must be written as %/foo/bar.


You don't need to write out the explicit path every time you want to reference somewhere outside of your working directory. You can substitute = for the segments of a path.

Recall that a full address in the the Urbit namespace is a beam: the /ship/desk/case/path. If you've switched to another desk before, you're already familiar with substitution syntax:

~your-urbit:dojo> =dir /=sandbox=

The above command uses substitution to use your current ship and case; only the desk argument, which is located between the other two, is given something new. Without substitution, you would need to write:

~your-urbit:dojo> =dir /~your-urbit/sandbox/85

Substitutions work the same way in beaks (the ship/desk/case part) and paths. For example, if you are in the /gen directory, you can reference a file in the /app directory like below. (+cat displays the contents of a file).

~your-urbit:dojo> =dir %/gen
~your-urbit:dojo/=/=/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen> +cat /===/app/curl/hoon

Note what was substituted out, and note that we don't need to separate = with /.

If we changed our working directory to something called /gen/gmail, we could access a file called

~your-urbit:dojo/=/=/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen> =dir %/gmail
~your-urbit:dojo/=/=/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen/gmail> +cat /===/app/=/split/hoon

Because both paths share a directory named /gmail at the same position in the address hierarchy – which, if you recall, is just a list – the above command works!

We can do the same thing between desks. If %sandbox has been merged with %home, the following command will produce the same results as the above command.

~your-urbit:dojo/=/=/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen/gmail> +cat /=sandbox=/app/=/split/hoon

Most commonly this is used to avoid having to know the current revision number in the dojo: /~lodleb-ritrul/home/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen/example/hoon

Changing directories

Change the working directory with =dir. It's our equivalent of the Unix cd.

For example, the syntax to navigate to /home/gen/ask is:

~your-urbit:dojo> =dir /=home=/gen/ask

This command will turn your prompt into something like this:


Using =dir without anything else uses the null path, which returns you to your home desk.

~your-urbit:dojo/=/=/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen/ask> =dir

Your dojo prompt will turn back into ~your-urbit:dojo>.

To go up levels in the path hierarchy, recall the relative path expression %. Stacking them represents another level higher in the hierarchy than the current working directory for each % beyond the initial. The command below brings you one level up:

~your-urbit:dojo> =dir %/gen
~your-urbit:dojo/=/=/~2018.10.2..00.35.44..d7e8/gen> =dir %%



Syntax: |mount /clay/path [Unix-name]

Mount the clay-path at the Unix mount point Unix-name.


|mount %/gen generators

Mounts %/gen to /generators inside your pier directory.


|unmount [clay-path || Unix-name]

Unmount the path or name from Unix.


|unmount %/gen

Unmounts the Clay path %/gen from whatever name it was mounted as.

|unmount %generators

Unmounts the Unix path /generators.


|merge desk beak[, =gem strategy]

Merges a beak into a desk using an optional merge strategy.

A beak is a ship-desk-case triple, encoded as a path(/~dozbud/home/2)


|merge %home-work /=home=, =gem %fine

Merge /=home= into %home-work using merge strategy %fine.

|merge %examples ~wacbex-ribmex %examples

Merge the %examples desk from ~waxbex-ribmex


|sync desk plot [plot-desk]

Subscribe to continuous updates from remote plot on local desk. plot-desk can specify the remote desk name. When omitted it defaults to being the same as desk. Non-comet urbits have |sync %home ~parent %kids automatically set up (where ~parent is the planet that issued a moon, the star that issued a planet, or the galaxy that issued a star).


|sync %home-local ~dozbud %home

|sync %home ~doznec


|unsync desk plot [plot-desk]

Unsubscribe from updates from remote plot on local desk with optional plot-desk. Arguments must match original |sync command.


|unsync %home-local ~dozbud %home


|label desk name

Label the current version of desk name.


|label %home release

Merge strategies

See Clay merge strategies.



Syntax: +cat path [path ...]

Similar to Unix cat. +cat takes one or more paths, and prints their contents. If that path is a file, the contents of the file is printed. If the path terminates in a directory, the list of names at that path is produced.


Syntax: +ls path

Similar to Unix ls. +ls takes a single path.

Produces a list of names at the path.

~your-urbit:dojo> +cat %/our/home/gen/curl/hoon


Syntax: |rm path

Remove the data at path. Path must be a path to the actual node, not a 'directory'.


Syntax: |cp to from

Copy the file at from into the path to.


Syntax: |mv to from

Move the file at from into the path to.

In Clay, |mv is just a shorthand for |cp then |rm. The |rm doesn't happen unless the |cp succeeds.