Git and Github


Thomas H. Simm

Introduction to Git and GitHub

From the Coursera course within Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate

diff find the difference between two files


diff is used to find differences between two files. On its own, it’s a bit hard to use; instead, use it with diff -u to find lines which differ in two files: diff -u

diff -u is used to compare two files, line by line, and have the differing lines compared side-by-side in the same output. See below:



< c=a**b
> c=a**b+a
> d=c**c


line in file 1 - c=change - line in file 2 a=added

>>diff -u


---     2021-10-17 11:14:24.880950400 +0100
+++    2021-10-17 11:14:21.155278200 +0100
@@ -1,4 +1,5 @@

adding -u gives extra context to changes

applying changes

Create a file with the changes in

>>diff -u >change.diff


>>patch < change.diff

this applies changes in change.diff to test-Copy1.diff

VCS version control system

By keeping track of the changes that we make to our files, a VCS lets us know when a file changed, who changed it, and also lets us easily roll back those changes.

git config

>>git config --global "" 
>>git config --global "My name" 

set email and name

–global means for all repositories

# Find details of configuration
>>git config -l

create a new repository

>>mkdir testa
>>cd testa
>>git init 

detals of the created directory

>>ls -l .git

-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609  23 Oct 17 12:06 HEAD
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609 130 Oct 17 12:06 config
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609  73 Oct 17 12:06 description
drwxr-xr-x 1 44781 197609   0 Oct 17 12:06 hooks/
drwxr-xr-x 1 44781 197609   0 Oct 17 12:06 info/
drwxr-xr-x 1 44781 197609   0 Oct 17 12:06 objects/
drwxr-xr-x 1 44781 197609   0 Oct 17 12:06 refs/

The git directory acts as a database for all the changes tracked in Git and the working tree acts as a sandbox where we can edit the current versions of the files.

add a file to the directory and get it tracked

>>cp ../ . 
#note the dot at end to say copy to this directory
>>git add

The file is now in the staging area or index

contains all info about what files and changes are in the next commit

>>git add -p

this would all tracked and shows differences and asks if want to make the add

get the status

>>git status

On branch master

No commits yet

Changes to be committed:
  (use "git rm --cached <file>..." to unstage)
        new file: ready to be committed

Make a commit

>>git commit

# Please enter the commit message for your changes. Lines starting
# with '#' will be ignored, and an empty message aborts the commit.
# On branch master
# Initial commit
# Changes to be committed:
#       new file:

this opens up an editor with text as shown

Enter details of the commit

To exit and save: Type the description at the very top, press esc to exit insert mode, then type :x! (now the cursor is at the bottom) and hit enter to save and exit

Alternatively add -m command with details of commit

git commit -m ‘Changed print to include some text’

Tracked files

  • Modified
    • made changes but not committed yet
  • Staged
    • in staging area
    • git add
  • Committed
    • in git directory
    • git commit

Commit messages

Brief description

More indepth details

More indepth

(remember to add new lines)

Git log

>>git log
commit 05958854b7ad68f8b1a178f260dccd844aec0e16 (HEAD -> master)
Author: thomashsimm <thomas>
Date:   Sun Oct 17 13:04:10 2021 +0100

    added python start line

commit 917a027f6282ce1c2c01e00a48bb72995e3984a6
Author: thomashsimm <thomas>
Date:   Sun Oct 17 12:56:41 2021 +0100

    Changed print to include some text

commit 7e32e328db17594fd0a507b4a23f489b68c09543
Author: thomashsimm <thomas>
Date:   Sun Oct 17 12:38:02 2021 +0100

    Add new file

Skipping the Staging Area

>>git commit -a

>>git commit -a -m "Added a new output"

a shortcut to stage any changes to tracked files and commit them in one step

Getting more information about our changes

>>git log -p

Equivalent to diff -u (describe above)

to get more info on a particular commit

>>git show 7e32e328db17594fd0a507b4a23f489b68c09543

Some stats of repo

>>git log --stat

changes in file, relative to repo/staging area

>>git diff

Deleting and Renaming Files

>>git rm

removes the file

>>git commit -m "Deleted"

commit the change/deletion of the file

>>git mv 

rename a file

N.B. git mv can also be used for moving files

>>echo .DS_STORE > .gitignore
#create .gitignore file to ignore .DS_STORE files (OS sys)
>>ls -la
#view hidden files
>>git add .gitignore
#add file
>>git commit -m "added a gitignore file"
#commit changes

Overview git cheat sheet

git commit -a     Stages files automatically

git log -p     Produces patch text

git show   Shows various objects

git diff   Is similar to the Linux diff command, and can show the differences in various commits

git diff –staged   An alias to –cached, this will show all staged files compared to the named commit

git add -p    Allows a user to interactively review patches to add to the current commit

git mv   Similar to the Linux mv command, this moves a file

git rmSimilar to the Linux rm command, this deletes, or removes a file

There are many useful git cheatsheets online as well. Please take some time to research and study a few, such as this one.

.gitignore files

.gitignore files are used to tell the git tool to intentionally ignore some files in a given Git repository. For example, this can be useful for configuration files or metadata files that a user may not want to check into the master branch. Check out more at:

A few common examples of file patterns to exclude can be found here

Undoing changes

Undoing unstaged changes

>>git restore

“git restore …” to discard changes in working directory

This comes up as an option to do when go git status

Same as git checkout

This takes the file from the directory and changes the one in the working tree to match this

Undoing staged changes

Say we’ve added all files in a directory

git add *

When we run git status we reaslise it includes a file we don’t want to add

To remove the add we do:

>>git restore --staged newfile.txt

>>git reset HEAD newfile.txt

Amending commits

>git commit --amend

This allows us to ammend the last commit

So for example we could add some more files to it and then modify the comments on the commit

Then overwrites the previous commit

Only use for: local changes

Amend Commits are not for commits that have been made public


Revert to an earlier commit

With git revert, a new commit is created with inverse changes. This cancels previous changes instead of making it as though the original commit never happened.

>>git revert HEAD

Add description of why doing rollback

Recall press esc to exit insert mode, then type :x! (now the cursor is at the bottom) and hit enter to save and exit

Identifying a commit

SHA1 hash numbers that Git uses to identify commits - They provide the consistency that is critical for distributed systems such as Git.

  • They are created using the commit message, date, author, and the snapshot taken of the working tree.

  • They are composed of 40 characters.

>>git show

# pick one of the commits

>>git show 34051fe65ab25ae011b0473fd1707e6e84f89b71

# And if we wanted to revert to this

>>git revert 34051fe65ab25ae011b0473fd1707e6e84f89b71

# this would also work if id is unique in repo
>> git revert 34051f

Git Revert Cheat Sheet

Feel free to read more here:



Git Branch

  • a pointer to a particular commit

  • it represents an independent line of development in a project

  • the default branch that git creates for you when initialised is called master (sometimes main)

  • To do something new or experimenting try adding a new branch

  • New branches enable changes to be worked on without disrupting the most current working state

List all branches in a repo

>>git branch
* master

just the one at the moment the master

Add a new branch

>>git branch tryThis
>>git branch
* master

the * indicates the branch we are in

Switch to different branch

we use git checkout to check out the latest snapshot for both files and for branches.

>>git checkout tryThis
Switched to branch 'tryThis'
>>git branch
* tryThis

Add and switch branches

>>git checkout -b orThis
Switched to a new branch 'orThis'
>>git branch
* orThis
# look at last two commits
>> git log -2
commit 9204f0f890143d81c8fc3fa5db839be5f65e63e9 (HEAD -> orThis)
Author: thomashsimm <thomas>
Date:   Sun Oct 17 18:25:06 2021 +0100

    add an empty file

commit 34051fe65ab25ae011b0473fd1707e6e84f89b71 (tryThis, master)
Author: thomashsimm <thomas>
Date:   Sun Oct 17 15:36:19 2021 +0100

    Revert "Revert "added a gitignore file""

    This reverts commit dc28347e0177c298e9b527ab8140973fb3a567ba.

We see the last two commits in this branch. Notice how next to the latest commit ID, git shows that this is where head is pointing to and that the branch is called orThis.

Next to the previous commit,git shows that both the master and the trThis branches are pointing to that snapshot of the project.

In this way, we can see that the orThis branch is ahead of the master branch.

#creates file
>>git add *
>>git commit -m " file added to orThis"
>>ls -l
total 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609  9 Oct 17 18:56
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609 38 Oct 17 14:51

#go back to master
>>git checkout master
total 3
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609  7 Oct 17 18:59
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609 16 Oct 17 18:59
-rw-r--r-- 1 44781 197609 38 Oct 17 14:51 is not here!

Delete branch

>>git branch -d tryThis
error: The branch 'tryThis' is not fully merged.
If you are sure you want to delete it, run 'git branch -D tryThis'.

>>git branch -D tryThis
Deleted branch tryThis (was 59ec266).

>>git branch
* master

Merging branches

Merging is the term that Git uses for combining branch data and history together.

#make sure in master
>>git branch
* master
#then merge orThis
>>git merge orThis
Updating da04c1c..4eb59cb
Fast-forward | 4 ++++
 1 file changed, 4 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644
>>git log
commit 4eb59cb2dca6a09fb59477fcdf4595551ff9f85f (HEAD -> master, branch2)
Author: thomashsimm <thomas>
Date:   Sun Oct 17 19:17:28 2021 +0100

Both branches are pointed at the same commit -> (HEAD -> master, branch2)

Merge conflict

From time to time, we might find that both the branches we’re trying to merge have edits to the same part of the same file.

This will result in something called a merge conflict.

Normally, Git can automatically merge files for us. But when we have a merge conflict, it will need a little help to figure out what to do.

#amend same file in master and a new branch- branch2
>>git merge branch2
CONFLICT (content): Merge conflict in
Automatic merge failed; fix conflicts and then commit the result.

#error message produced
>>git status
On branch master
You have unmerged paths.
  (fix conflicts and run "git commit")
  (use "git merge --abort" to abort the merge)

Unmerged paths:
  (use "git add <file>..." to mark resolution)
        both modified:

Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)

no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")

To try to resolve this we open up the file in editor


####in editor>>

<<<<<<< HEAD

#comment here too
>>>>>>> branch2

####which we change to this to keep both mods>>

#comment here too

Then add the file and check the status

>>git add
>>git status
On branch master
All conflicts fixed but you are still merging.
  (use "git commit" to conclude merge)

Changes to be committed:
>>git commit 
[master b7e6929] Merge branch 'branch2' Kept both features

Conflicts now gone

And committed

–graph –oneline ==>> helps us visualise the merge

>>git log --graph --oneline

Abort merge

>>git merge --abort

Git Branches and Merging Cheat Sheet

git branch Used to manage branches git-branch

git branch [branchname] Creates the branch Git-Branching-Basic-Branching-and-Merging

git branch -d [branchname] Deletes the branch git-branch.txt–D

git branch -D [branchname] Forcibly deletes the branch

git checkout [branchname] Switches to a branch. git-checkout

git checkout -b [branchname] Creates a new branch and switches to it. git-checkout.txt–bltnewbranchgt

git merge [branchname] Merge joins branches together. git-merge

git merge –abort If there are merge conflicts (meaning files are incompatible), –abort can be used to abort the merge action.

git log –graph –onelineThis shows a summarized view of the commit history for a repo. Git-Basics-Viewing-the-Commit-History

Working with remotes

GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service.

On top of the version control functionality of Git, GitHub includes extra features like bug tracking, wikis, and task management.

GitHub lets us share and access repositories on the web and copy or clone them to our local computer, so we can work on them.

GitHub is a popular choice with a robust feature set, but it’s not the only one. Other services that provide similar functionality are BitBucket, and GitLab.


GitHub provides free access to a Git server for public and private repositories.

It limits the number of contributors for the free private repositories, and offers an unlimited private repository service for a monthly fee. We’ll be using a free repository for our examples, which is fine for educational use, small personal projects, or open source development.

Clone a directory

This is to create a local copy of a repository from the github website

  1. Go to the repo

  2. Click code and copy the clone URL HTTPS

  • other options are availabe too

  1. In Git bash run

git clone

Fill in any passwords if required

# Make changes to files

#Then add and commit the changes
>>git commit -a -m "Modified the readme"
[main c9307f7] modified read me
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)

Git Push

Send the changes to the remote repository

>>git push
Enumerating objects: 5, done.
Counting objects: 100% (5/5), done.
Delta compression using up to 8 threads
Compressing objects: 100% (3/3), done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 309 bytes | 309.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 3 (delta 2), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (2/2), completed with 2 local objects.
   08aa0a2..c9307f7  main -> main

Basic Interaction with GitHub Cheat-Sheet

There are various remote repository hosting sites:

- GitHub

- BitBucket

- Gitlab.

Follow the workflow at to set up a free account, username, and password. After that, these steps create-a-repo will help you create a brand new repository on GitHub.

Some useful commands for getting started:

git clone URL

Git clone is used to clone a remote repository into a local workspace

git push

Git push is used to push commits from your local repo to a remote repo

git pull

Git pull is used to fetch the newest updates from a remote repository

These can be useful for keeping your local workspace up to date.

Using a remote repository

to find the configuration of a remote repository go to the local copy and use git remote -v to find where the data is fetched from and pushed to. Below they are the same but can be different if say fetch with HTTP for read only and say SSH for pushing. But need to be same place.

>>git remote -v
origin (fetch)
origin (push)

And more information with git remote show origin

>>git remote show origin
* remote origin
  Fetch URL:
  Push  URL:
  HEAD branch: master
  Remote branches:
    gh-pages tracked
    master   tracked
  Local branch configured for 'git pull':
    master merges with remote master
  Local ref configured for 'git push':
    master pushes to master (up to date)

If above had said — master pushes to master (local out of date)

This means there have been changes on the remote and the local is now out of date- e.g. someone else has changed the repo.

We’d now need to run >>git fetch to sync the data.

Find branches git is tracking git branch -r

To make changes to a remote branch we have to pull the remote branch, merge it with the local branch then push to the origin- the same thing we’d do with the master.

Like with local change >>git status can give us changes in the remote repository if it exists (when in the local one) as well as the local changes

Fetching new changes

>>git fetch

This copies changes done in remote repo to local repo

But unlike git pull doesn’t instantly merge changes

  • git pull = fetch and merge
  • git fetch = just fetches

Can merge like this

>>git merge orgin/master

Or just do both with pull

As long as there are no conflicts, Git will move the current branch tip up to the target branch tip and combine histories of both commits. Using a fast-forward merge

>>git pull

To create a local branch for a remote branch we don’t have yet run git checkout BRANCH_NAME

git remote update will fetch the contents of all remote branches and allow us to merge the contents ourselves.

Git Remotes Cheat-Sheet

git remote

Lists remote repos

git remote -v

List remote repos verbosely

git remote show [name]

Describes a single remote repo

git remote update

Fetches the most up-to-date objects

git fetch

Downloads specific objects

git branch -r

Lists remote branches; can be combined with other branch arguments to manage remote branches

Conflict Resolution Cheat Sheet

Merge conflicts are not uncommon when working in a team of developers, or on Open Source Software. Fortunately, GitHub has some good documentation on how to handle them when they happen:



You can also use git rebase branchname to change the base of the current branch to be branchname

The git rebase command is a lot more powerful. Check out this link Git-Tools-Rewriting-History for more information.

Git Fork and Pull Request Cheat Sheet

Check out the following link for more information:

More Information on Code Reviews

Check out the following links for more information:

Additional Tools

Check out the following links for more information: