Using Git and GitHub


March 9, 2016

Using Git and Github

Git is a Unix command used for sharing code and other computer files with colleagues.

Github is a popular place on the web to store your code and other computer files, either privately or for the whole world to see. These collections are organized into units (like folders) called repositories.

Git is also used for version control when working on a large computer project, where you need to keep track of changes in many different files, possibly written by many different people. Because Git can be used for very complex projects, it is a very powerful tool.

Let’s keep things simple here. The author of this book has a public Github site, which has many repositories that he has created for various purposes. You are welcome to look at his public site here:

There is a repository for the source code written for this eBook, you can look at it here:

To make a copy of this repository on your account, simply open a new Notebook (say, in Python) and enter the following commands:

!git clone 

This will make a new folder on your Jupyter Hub called “UsingSyzygy” that will have all the code inside that folder. You can now open those files and run the code in your server.

Now, as you get more experience with Git and Github, you might like to clone some other people’s repositories and use their code. It is a good idea to keep your account organized, so you can create a new folder, and clone the new stuff directly into that new folder. A series of Notebook commands to do this would look like this:

%mkdir MyNewDirectory 
%cd MyNewDirectory
!git clone 

You can find THE-USER-NAME and THE-REPOSITORY-NAME.git right on Github when you are looking at someone’s repository. There is a button on the right, that says “Clone or download.” Click on “Clone or download” and request a “Clone with HTTPS.” You will then get the https address for the repo, which you can paste into the git clone command above.

Of course, you can also do this in a terminal window (by opening “New Terminal” in the front page of your Jupyter server). But frankly, I hate the Unix terminal and its command line, so I would naturally advise you to be like me and just avoid Unix. Use the Notebook directly. :-)

Some details on cloning Github repos are here:

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are cloning from a PRIVATE repo on Github or pushing content back to github, you will need to use ssh based authentication.