Git Basics Every Developer and Administrator Should Know

git basics

Version control systems are repositories used to version your code/scripts in a collaborative manner with the advantages of tracking changes like features added, files deleted etc.

Version control systems are not limited to developers. In this DevOps era, developers, as well as administrators, should have good knowledge about version control systems like Git. In this post, we will cover the basic Git commands and workflows that you can use with your projects.

Git Basics for developers/administrators:

You can install git on your workstation from here – Git Download ( Windows, OSX, Linux).

1. Creating a repository:

create a project directory and cd into it. Execute the following git command from the directory to create a git repository.

Note: If you have an existing project, you can cd into the root of source code directory and use the following command.

git init
[email protected]:~$ mkdir demorepo && cd demorepo
[email protected]:~/demorepo$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/ubuntu/demorepo/.git/
[email protected]:~/demorepo$

2. Checking out a repository:

You can create a copy of your git repository using the clone command. Execute the following command to clone your project directory.

git clone /path/to/project-repository
[email protected]:~$ mkdir repo-copy && cd repo-copy
[email protected]:~/repo-copy$ git clone  /home/ubuntu/demorepo
Cloning into 'demorepo'...
[email protected]:~/repo-copy$ ls
[email protected]:~/repo-copy$

Git Workflow

Every git repository has three trees. A working directory, Index and Head.

Working directory: It contains the actual project files.

Index: It is the staging area where you add the project files that needs to be committed.

Head: Head is where the reference to you previous commit exists.

git basic workflow

Adding file to staging area: (add)

When you create new files in your project directory, you need to add it to the staging area. Execute the following command to add the files to the staging area.

git add filename

Let’s say you want to add all the files in your project directory to the staging area. Execute the following command to do the same

git add *

Committing new changes to the repository (commit):

Once you have added all the files to the staging area, you can commit the changes with a reference message using “-m” flag as shown below.

git commit -m “my first commit” 

once committed, a version of your project files will be versioned in your local repository. Next step is to push you code to a remote centralized repository. The best online source codes repository is Github. It offers both public and private repositories. There is a subscription charge for private repositories.

You can sign up for a Github account here.

Once signed up create a repository with your project name using the + option available at the top navigation bar. Create a repository without initializing the file.

creating github repository

Once you create a repository, you will be redirected to a page with the commands you need to execute on your local repository. There are two sections of commands as shown below.

github commands

If you have already committed your code to your local repository, you should leave the first part and execute the commands in the second part.

But, if you are going to start a new project, execute all the commands in your project folder as mentioned in the first sections.

There are two important commands you need to execute to push your code to a remote Github repository.

git remote add origin<user-name>/<repo-name>.git
git push -u origin master

The first command will add the remote repository URL to your local git repository. The second command will push the local repository code to the remote repository mentioned in the first command. You will be asked to enter the username and password of Github after executing the second command. Once authenticated, your local repository code will be pushed to the remote Github repository.


Let’s say, you want to work on a new feature for your project without affecting the initial version. For this, you can make use of Git’s branching feature. A git branch is nothing but a clone of your original code. Once you added the feature and tested the code, you can merge your branch with the new functionalities to the master branch (last version).

You can create a branch using the following git command.

Syntax: git checkout -b <branch-name>
Example: git checkout -b signup-function

Once you have checkout to a new branch, all the commits you make will be committed to the branch you have created. To push your branch to Github, execute the following command.

Syntax: git push origin <branch-name>
Example: git push origin signup-function

If you want to make changes to your master branch, execute the following command.

git checkout master

Once you have tested the new feature in your new branch, next step is to merge it with the master branch. You can do that using the following commands.

git checkout master
git merge <branch-name>

Note: When merging, your current branch should be the master. “git status” command will show your current working branch.

Replacing the local repository with remote repository:

If you think you don’t want all the local commits and changes of your local server, you can roll back to the remote server contents using git fetch command. The syntax is as follows.

git fetch origin
 git reset --hard origin/master

Other resources:

Gui of Git – Tortisegit

Gui Client  – Sourcetree

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