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Learn Git / Configure Git

Once Git client software has been installed it is necessary to set a few configuration properties to tell Git the user information. The configuration steps will need to be repeated each time Git software is installed, including each virtual machine, and potentially for each tool if software stores Git configuration in different environments within Windows (such as Cygwin). If the Git software is shared between users, then the properties need to be set for each user on the computer. It is important as a software developer to know which Git configuration file(s) a software tool uses; therefore, check that the properties are set when starting with a new computer or development environment.

For OpenCDSS, it is assumed that at a minimum Git for Windows is installed on Windows computers.

Several Git configuration properties are set by default and are typically OK because the Git software installer will default for the computer operating system. Only important changes are discussed here.

The following sections are included in this page:

Set Global Configuration Properties

The following documentation summarizes how to set global Git configuration properties after installing software:

Typical configuration includes the following (replace the user information with appropriate values). For example run the git config command in the Git Bash window. The editor that is specified will be used for commit messages if not specified on the command line (git commit rather than git commit -m 'commit message').

git config --global "Joe Smith"
git config --global
git config --global core.editor someeditor

git config --list Smith

The vim editor is the default in Git Bash. However, this terminal-window editor requires skill to use and may be confusing. See the Vim website and Vim documentation for more information. If vim is the editor and is used for editing, it may be necessary to use some editor commands to move forward and set a different editor. The vim editor uses an insert mode where keys that are typed will be inserted into a file, and a command mode where keys that are typed result in actions such as moving the cursor, deleting text, and entering insert mode. Use the ESC key to exit insert mode. Use the i character to enter insert mode before the current character (which will display INSERT in the window footer).

To select another editor for commit messages use the git config --global core.editor someeditor command and specify the name of the editor program to use in place of someeditor. If necessary, specify the full path to the editor program if the PATH environment variable does not include the program. Do not use Notepad because it does not properly handle end of line if Linux file is encountered. Instead, use Notepad++, UltraEdit, or another "smart" editor.

Location of Git Configuration Files

Global configuration properties are typically saved in a hidden file named .gitconfig in the user's home folder (~/.gitconfig on Linux and Cygwin and C:\Users\userName\.gitconfig on Windows).

In all cases it is generally best to use git commands to modify and view configuration files.

An example configuration file from Cygwin is:

        name = Steve Malers
        email =
        ui = auto
        editor = vim
        conflictstyle = diff3
        default = upstream

and on Windows:

        name = Steve Malers
        email =
        editor = vim
        recentrepo = C:/Users/sam/cdss-dev/Test/git-repos/test1

Configuration values are also saved in each repository in a file .git/config, for example as shown below. Note that in this case some properties are used to indicate the remote (cloud) repository that is associated with the local repository.

        repositoryformatversion = 0
        filemode = true
        bare = false
        logallrefupdates = true
        ignorecase = true
[remote "origin"]
        url =
        fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
[branch "master"]
        remote = origin
        merge = refs/heads/master

To list user settings from the global (user) configuration file:

git config --list