Setting up a repository
This tutorial provides an overview of how to set up a repository (repo) under Git version control. This resource will walk you through initializing a Git repository for a new or existing project. Included below are workflow examples of repositories both created locally and cloned from remote repositories. This guide assumes a basic familiarity with a command-line interface.
The high level points this guide will cover are:
- Initializing a new Git repo
- Cloning an existing Git repo
- Committing a modified version of a file to the repo
- Configuring a Git repo for remote collaboration
- Common Git version control commands
By the end of this module, you should be able to create a Git repo, use common Git commands, commit a modified file, view your project’s history and configure a connection to a Git hosting service (Bitbucket).
What is a Git repository?
A Git repository is a virtual storage of your project. It allows you to save versions of your code, which you can access when needed.
Initializing a new repository: git init
To create a new repo, you'll use the
git init command.
git init is a one-time command you use during the initial setup of a new repo. Executing this command will create a new
.git subdirectory in your current working directory. This will also create a new master branch.
Versioning an existing project with a new git repository
This example assumes you already have an existing project folder that you would like to create a repo within. You'll first
cd to the root project folder and then execute the
git init command.
cd /path/to/your/existing/code git init
git init to an existing project directory will execute the same initialization setup as mentioned above, but scoped to that project directory.
Visit the git init page for a more detailed resource on
Cloning an existing repository: git clone
If a project has already been set up in a central repository, the clone command is the most common way for users to obtain a local development clone. Like
git init, cloning is generally a one-time operation. Once a developer has obtained a working copy, all version control operations are managed through their local repository.
git clone is used to create a copy or clone of remote repositories. You pass
git clone a repository URL. Git supports a few different network protocols and corresponding URL formats. In this example, we'll be using the Git SSH protocol. Git SSH URLs follow a template of:
An example Git SSH URL would be:
When executed, the latest version of the remote repo files on the master branch will be pulled down and added to a new folder. The new folder will be named after the REPONAME in this case
For more documentation on
git clone usage and supported Git URL formats, visit the git clone Page.
Saving changes to the repository: git add and git commit
Now that you have a repository cloned or initialized, you can commit file version changes to it. The following example assumes you have set up a project at
/path/to/project. The steps being taken in this example are:
- Change directories to
- Create a new file
CommitTest.txtwith contents ~"test content for git tutorial"~
- git add
CommitTest.txtto the repository staging area
- Create a new commit with a message describing what work was done in the commit
cd /path/to/project echo "test content for git tutorial" >> CommitTest.txt git add CommitTest.txt git commit -m "added CommitTest.txt to the repo"
After executing this example, your repo will now have
CommitTest.txt added to the history and will track future updates to the file.
This example introduced two additional git commands:
commit. This was a very limited example, but both commands are covered more in depth on the git add and git commit pages. Another common use case for
git add is the
--all option. Executing
git add --all will take any changed and untracked files in the repo and add them to the repo and update the repo's working tree.
Repo-to-repo collaboration: git push
It’s important to understand that Git’s idea of a “working copy” is very different from the working copy you get by checking out source code from an SVN repository. Unlike SVN, Git makes no distinction between the working copies and the central repository—they're all full-fledged Git repositories.
This makes collaborating with Git fundamentally different than with SVN. Whereas SVN depends on the relationship between the central repository and the working copy, Git’s collaboration model is based on repository-to-repository interaction. Instead of checking a working copy into SVN’s central repository, you push or pull commits from one repository to another.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from giving certain Git repos special meaning. For example, by simply designating one Git repo as the “central” repository, it’s possible to replicate a centralized workflow using Git. This is accomplished through conventions rather than being hardwired into the VCS itself.
Bare vs. cloned repositories
If you used
git clone in the previous "Initializing a new Repository" section to set up your local repository, your repository is already configured for remote collaboration.
git clone will automatically configure your repo with a remote pointed to the Git URL you cloned it from. This means that once you make changes to a file and commit them, you can
git push those changes to the remote repository.
If you used
git init to make a fresh repo, you'll have no remote repo to push changes to. A common pattern when initializing a new repo is to go to a hosted Git service like Bitbucket and create a repo there. The service will provide a Git URL that you can then add to your local Git repository and
git push to the hosted repo. Once you have created a remote repo with your service of choice you will need to update your local repo with a mapping. We discuss this process in the Configuration & Set Up guide below.
If you prefer to host your own remote repo, you'll need to set up a "Bare Repository." Both
git init and
git clone accept a
--bare argument. The most common use case for bare repo is to create a remote central Git repository
Configuration & set up: git config
Once you have a remote repo setup, you will need to add a remote repo url to your local
git config, and set an upstream branch for your local branches. The
git remote command offers such utility.
git remote add
This command will map remote repository at
to a ref in your local repo under
. Once you have mapped the remote repo you can push local branches to it.
git push -u
This command will push the local repo branch under
to the remote repo at
For more in-depth look at
git remote, see the
Git remote page.
In addition to configuring a remote repo URL, you may also need to set global Git configuration options such as username, or email. The
git config command lets you configure your Git installation (or an individual repository) from the command line. This command can define everything from user info, to preferences, to the behavior of a repository. Several common configuration options are listed below.
Git stores configuration options in three separate files, which lets you scope options to individual repositories (local), user (Global), or the entire system (system):
– Repository-specific settings.
/.gitconfig– User-specific settings. This is where options set with the --global flag are stored.
$(prefix)/etc/gitconfig– System-wide settings.
Define the author name to be used for all commits in the current repository. Typically, you’ll want to use the
--global flag to set configuration options for the current user.
git config --global user.name
Define the author name to be used for all commits by the current user.
--local option or not passing a config level option at all, will set the
user.name for the current local repository.
git config --local user.email
Define the author email to be used for all commits by the current user.
git config --global alias.
Create a shortcut for a Git command. This is a powerful utility to create custom shortcuts for commonly used git commands. A simplistic example would be:
git config --global alias.ci commit
This creates a
ci command that you can execute as a shortcut to
git commit. To learn more about git aliases visit the
git config page.
git config --system core.editor
Define the text editor used by commands like
git commit for all users on the current machine. The
argument should be the command that launches the desired editor (e.g., vi). This example introduces the
--system option. The
--system option will set the configuration for the entire system, meaning all users and repos on a machine. For more detailed information on configuration levels visit the git config page.
git config --global --edit
Open the global configuration file in a text editor for manual editing. An in-depth guide on how to configure a text editor for git to use can be found on the Git config page.
All configuration options are stored in plaintext files, so the
git config command is really just a convenient command-line interface. Typically, you’ll only need to configure a Git installation the first time you start working on a new development machine, and for virtually all cases, you'll want to use the
--global flag. One important exception is to override the author email address. You may wish to set your personal email address for personal and open source repositories, and your professional email address for work-related repositories.
Git stores configuration options in three separate files, which lets you scope options to individual repositories, users, or the entire system:
– Repository-specific settings.
~/.gitconfig– User-specific settings. This is where options set with the --global flag are stored.
$(prefix)/etc/gitconfig– System-wide settings.
When options in these files conflict, local settings override user settings, which override system-wide. If you open any of these files, you’ll see something like the following:
[user] name = John Smith email = email@example.com [alias] st = status co = checkout br = branch up = rebase ci = commit [core] editor = vim
You can manually edit these values to the exact same effect as
The first thing you’ll want to do after installing Git is tell it your name/email and customize some of the default settings. A typical initial configuration might look something like the following:
Tell Git who you are
git --global user.name "John Smith" git config --global user.email firstname.lastname@example.org
Select your favorite text editor
git config --global core.editor vim
Add some SVN-like aliases
git config --global alias.st status git config --global alias.co checkout git config --global alias.br branch git config --global alias.up rebase git config --global alias.ci commit
This will produce the
~ /.gitconfig file from the previous section. Take a more in-depth look at git config on the git config page.
Here we demonstarted how to create a git repository using two methods: git init and git clone. This guide can be applied to manage software source code or other content that needs to be versioned. Git add, git commit, git push, and git remote were also introduced and utilized at a high level.