Getting started with Git

Getting started with Git

Git is a version control system

Open source software, developed by Linus Torvald, created to manage large open source project code. In this hands-on you will learn how to:

  1. Setup Git;
  2. 6 basic Git commands: git init, git status, git add, git commit, git push, git pull;
  3. Recover stuff;
  4. Publish your local repo online on GitHub;
  5. Resolve conflicts.


  • Your laptop;
  • Git installed (installation instructions here contains info for all platforms);
  • Anaconda Distribution.

If you got lost during the workshop, here is an extended version of the Git tutorial that you can use later.

Launching Command Prompt

The commands in these tutorials will utilize the command prompt because of its incredible flexibility and usability. We will also introduce visual interfaces to do the same actions later.

{% hint style="warning” %} 🧠 Note: If you have Windows operation system, we will continue in Git Bash. On macOS and Ubuntu in Terminal. {% endhint %}

Finishing Git setup

Git relies on your name and email address to identify who did what on the code. You can write any name (not necessary the one that you’ve used during the GitHub registration), but the email address should be = GitHub email address.

Let’s set that up:

$ git config --global "your_name"
$ git config --global "your_email"

This name and email address will be associated to all “commits” (bundle of changes) applied to the code.

You may also be aware that different system encore characters differently. Let’s adjust Git behavior to sort it out:

# The command for macOS and Linux users
$ git config --global core.autocrlf input

# The command for Windows users
$ git config --global core.autocrlf true

We will also configure Git to use a text editor that is easier to use than the default one:

$ git config --global core.editor "nano"

Your first Git repository

Overview of how Git works \[1\]

In any folder that does not already contain a Git repository type:

$ git init

Now let’s check that the .git folder was created (it’s a marker for Git repositories):

$ ls -a

Check the “status” of the repository (the most useful Git command ever💪 ):

$ git status

Start tracking the history of a file, for example

$ git add

What did we add to what? Introduction to the staging area concept in Git:

Staging with Git \[1\]

Save the changes operated on tracked files with a “good” message (read more on how to write commit messages here):

$ git commit -m "Short, clear, and useful message about the changes"

Check changes you made with respect to the last “staged” changes (for all touched files):

$ git diff

Check the past commits:

$ git log [no options | commit_id | file_name]

Forgetting changes, recovering files, moving around the commit tree

Detaching the HEAD (by mistake? on purpose? ):

$ git checkout commit_id
# Recover with:
$ git checkout branch_name (master by default)

# Restart "history" from here - start a new branch:
$ git checkout -b new_branch_name # (do NOT call it "master")

Getting a single file back (i.e. discard changes in the local file tree, recover the state of a given file at at given commit)

git checkout commit_id file_name

Ignoring things is very useful

Create a “.gitignore” file in the root folder of your repository

$ nano .gitignore #(rough, but should work in all environment)

The file contains a list of “filters” to check whether or not a change should be tracked by Git. Filter may tool like:

(Ignoring all changes to files with the .temp extension, temporary checkpoints created by Jupyter Notebook or Lab, and all files in the “intermediate_results” folder)


Collaboration - working with a remote

Objective: put the artifacts and their history in a location where it can be retrieved by others, and they can contribute to the project.

Step 1: Create the shared repository (Git Lab - create empty repository; i.e. no readme file, just to make it easier to work)

Step 2: link your local repository to the shared repository. The link is called an “upstream”. The shared repository is where you will get the latest version from (fetch) and push your latests commits (push).

This information is provided by GitLab when you create the shared repository! You get the repo URL from GitLab/GitHub

#command: git remote add [local_name] [URL_of_the_shared_repo]
$ git remote add origin

# check if it worked - list "remotes"
git remote -v

With this, the following commands will push and pull changes to and from the “remote”:

# command (get what's on the remote locally):
# git pull [name_of_the_remote_repository] [local_branch_to_store_commits]
# example:
$ git pull origin master

# command (send local changes to remote):
# git push [name_of_the_remote_repository] [remote_branch_to_store_commits]
# example:
$ git push -u origin master

Getting started with collaborating

Getting someone else’s code: (this is eased by GitLab/GitHub interface)

# command (copy remote repo locally):
# git clone [remote_url] [local_directory]
$ git clone ~/Desktop/testrepo_redcar

Note that “git clone” sets up the “remote” automatically

Work in groups, pick one of your repository, all members of the groups should have a local copy.

Everyone pull changes from the remote (we are all on the same revision of the artefacts)

Action 1: everyone touches a _different_ file. commit, push. Observe how nicely it runs.

Action 2: everyone touches the _same file_, observe push failure. Find out who “won” the commit race.

All those who could not “push”, must pull. Check the content of the conflicting files

Cold and dry, but everything is my favorite color
The two moons may be a problem for Wolfman
But the Mummy will appreciate the lack of humidity
<<<<<<< HEAD
We added a different line in the other copy
This line added to Wolfman's copy
>>>>>>> dabb4c8c450e8475aee9b14b4383acc99f42af1d
<<<<<<< HEAD
>>>>>>> dabb4c8c450e8475aee9b14b4383acc99f42af1d

Remove the tags, edit the content so that it makes sense. Commit, push. Check if the others were faster than you!



Leave a README file at the root of the repository. This file must contains a general description of the content of the repository. The README file indicates where the rest of the documentation is - or fully describes the project. Up to you!

Things to document:

  • What is the project about
  • Key technology used in the project (programming language, tools used to compile/run)
  • Foldering structure (what’s what in here)
  • How to run, test, compile, execute content of the repository
    • commands to run the tool
    • where input/output files are located and what they contain
    • how to compile your thesis ! (if you use LaTeX)


The code you will be putting in GitLab / GitHub may be private or public. Your choice. If made public, and with the intent of sharing it with others (regardless of who they are), you MUST pick a license for your work.

In general, use an open license, allowing others to do what they want with your code. Worst license: no license (basic copyright laws apply, and you can’t find out what those are…)


If you would like to look through a more comprehensive tutorial on Git (written for software engineers), this is a great guide.


  1. Geoff Hoffman. Git 101 - Crash Course in Version Control using Git. [Accessed 6 March 2020].