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How to install git on Linux

25 September 2020Gary Woodfine3 min read

Git is the most popular distributed version control system among developers, especially Linux-based software developers. In this tutorial we'll guide you through the process to install and configure git for use on your Ubuntu and Debian based Linux.

You may have previously learned the basics of version control and read background information on git, in this post we are going to learn how to install and configure git on a Debian based Linux distribution.

Install Git using a package manager

The easiet and recommended way to install Git is to install making use of a package manager. The most common package management on Debian based distribution is apt (Advanced Package Tool) , which is used and tightly integrated Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Kali, PopOS etc.

Depending on your distribution and release version, there may be a possibility that git is already installed, therefore it is worth double checking.

To check if git may be already installed, simply using the terminal window to check the version number.

git --version

If the command returns a response similar to the below, then git has been previously installed.

Terminal window git install check

If git is not installed then the command will return a message indicating that git could not be found, if that is the case then we can update and upgrade our packages to ensure we get the latest possible version, and then install it.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt install git

Once the installation is complete we can once again verify installation and version number using the git --version command again, which should now confirm Git has been successfully installed.

Git Configuration

When starting to use Git, it's important to configure it so that it works as expected in your particular environment. The first configuration option to consider is setting your username and Email address you would like to associate with all your commits. Git expects you to set these options at a minimum.

The primary reason for this is due to the fact that Git is a Source Code Management System, and it's primary job is to track changes made by users over time, therefore it needs to know who is making those changes so that it can record and associate those changes with a user account.

If you don't specify these values, then git will default to associating them with signed on userid and machine name, which chances are that is not what you want to have the system ultimately use.

Git enables you to set a global and per-project username and email address , and you can easily administer your git identity using the git config command.

We discuss Git Configuration options in further detail in Advanced Git Configuration options , However for now we will discuss the most basic options to consider when just starting out with git.

The first option to consider, is to set a Global username and email address,

Configure Global Username and Email

The global git username and email address are associated with commits on all repositories on your system that don’t have repository-specific configuration values.

To configure your global commit name and email address run the git config command with the --global option

git config --global user.name "Your Name"
git config --global user.email "email@domain.com"

Once you've completed configuring your name and email you can verify your settings anytime using:

git config --list

Which will return something similar to:

user.name=Your Name
user.email=email@domain.com

NOTE : Git does not validate the email address you supply, you can enter any email address you choose. However, you need to bear in mind there are some advanced use cases and tools that will require you to have a valid email address.

Git configuration store

Git stores your configuration details in a hidden text based file gitconfig in your Home directory ~/.gitconfig.

You can use any text based editor to view these details, in our case we'll use nano

nano ~/.gitconfig

Which will look similar to

[user]
    name = Your Name
    email = email@domain.com

It is generally discouraged to modify the Git Configurations directly by editing the files. However, Git Configuration files are easy to understand. You can continue to make configuration changes either by editing the ~/.gitconfig in your text editor or making use of the git config command.

We discuss the Advanced Git Configuration options and discuss how to apply beneficial Git Configurations.

Conclusion

Installing Git on Debian based Linux Distribution is a matter of making use of the APT package manager.

I recommend the Pro Git book and learn more about how to use Git.

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