These are some notes on how to move beyond just using git locally for version control. Let’s assume you want to create a remote repository on a (linux) server named remoteserver to archive your code or so that multiple people can push/pull to a central repository on that server.

(optional) setting up a hostname and an SSH key on your local machine

It is useful to associate the remoteserver hostname with its IP address on your local machine, so you don’t have to keep looking it up. Do this by editing /etc/hosts and enter this line:

<ip-address> remoteserver

It is also useful to set up an SSH key. This will prevent you from having to enter your username and password each time you clone/push/pull to the repository. This is done by entering:


After issuing this command, you will be asked to enter a password to encrypt your SSH key. While you can go with no encryption by simply entering nothing and hitting enter this is not recommended for security reasons. After you set up your password will only need to enter this password once, the first time it is needed after you log into your machine. Finally, enter:

ssh-copy-id delton@remoteserver

Creating a new code repo on the remote server

Instead of all projects being stored in a single repository it is recommended to create separate repositories for each project. That way all history and branches are specific to the project of interest and they are not all combined together. Lets assume that all git projects on remoteserver will be stored in /home/git/.

To create a git repository called myrepo.git on remoteserver first create a new directory for it:

cd /home/gitrepos/
mkdir myrepo.git

Set the permissions on the directory:

chgrp git myrepo.git
chmod 775 myrepo.git

Move to that directory and create an empty git repository.

git --bare init --shared

Notes: The “.git” extension on the folder name is a useful convention. The --bare option creates a “bare” folder which is equivalent to the .git folder you may be familiar with. In such a repository, the source files are in a compressed form and not directly visible. You should never try to put source files directly into such a folder. The --shared option lets git know that all files in this directory should be shared among the “git” group. If the git group doesn’t yet exist, you can create it with sudo groupadd git. If you are not in the git group you can add your username with sudo usermod -a -G git <myusername>.

Cloning a repo from the remote server

To clone an existing repository from remoteserver onto your local machine run:

git clone ssh://remoteserver/home/gitrepos/myrepo.git

Creating a new local git repository

From your source code folder, enter:

git init

To associate your name and email with your commits, use the following:

git config --global "John D. Smith"
git config --global

Committing code to your local git repository

git add *
git commit

Make sure to add a comment on what the changes are for! By default git will drop to an editor for you to do this. You can add a comment in the command line with git commit -c "here is my comment".

Notes: The first command (git add *) recursively “stages” all files and folders for committing. It is often useful to create a .gitignore file. This is simply a text file with a list of files and folders you want git to exclude when you run git add *. You should commit often and always comment your commits.

Pushing your changes to the remote server


git push ssh://remoteserver/home/gitrepos/myrepo.git master

Pulling changes from the remote server

Similarly you can pull any changes via:

git pull ssh://remoteserver/home/gitrepos/myrepo.git master

Notes you can use the shortcut commands git push and git pull by formally linking your master branch to the remote repository and telling git you want to merge changes into your master branch. This can be done by entering:

git remote add origin ssh://remoteserver/home/gitrepos/myrepo.git
git config branch.master.remote origin
git config branch.master.merge refs/heads/master

You can view your git remote configuration in the file .git/config and if you want you can change it by modifying that file directly.

What to do if your work falls behind others

It’s possible that when you use git push it will return an error because others have made changes to the remote repository, so your version is behind. You can fix this by running

git pull --rebase origin master

This pulls all of the changes and then adds your latest commit on top. This is the same as saying “I want to add my changes to what everyone else has already done.” The --rebase option “rebases” everything - ie. it combines both the new stuff from the pull and the new changes from your local commit(s) that you are trying to push into your last commit. You could also just run ` git pull `, however this will create an additional “merge commit” which is inelegant to have in your log file.

It’s possible that when you try to run git pull --rebase you will run into merge conflicts. You now need to fix each merge conflict locally. For each file with a merge conflict, edit the file as you see fit, and then run

git add filename
git rebase --continue

If you want to remove a file you can run git rm instead of git add. At any time you can see a list of merge conflicts by running git status. If you make a mistake during this process or decide you don’t want to try to fix the conflicts, enter git rebase --abort.

Viewing history and checking out previous versions

To view the history of changes enter:

git log

If you wish to go back and “checkout” a previous version of the code, commit (or stash) your latest changes, and then enter something like:

git checkout <commit-identifier>

Here <commit-identifier> is a long string of numbers and letters specific to the commit of interest, which you can find in the output of git log (it will look something like 181518141330729fa1809702ac28be02393bd14f). Using this command will replace all files in your source directory with the versions from that commit. If you would like you can create a branch for performing experiments and modifications, via git checkout -b <new-branch-name> (however branching and merging will not be covered here). To return to the latest version enter:

git checkout master

Further reading