3Installing Git


Git is a free, open source and distributed version control system for software and documentation projects.

The Git website says “it’s easy to use”—that’s not exactly been my experience; I found it difficult, counterintuitive and basically a right pain in the arse—it uses a command line interface. It’s “You are standing in an open field west of a white house†1 stuff. My experience is it’s more like the “you are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike†2 bit of another game.

For some reason Git and its online partner in crime, GitHub seem to be the version control system of choice for every developer out there—no one has a bad word to say about it (apart from me—this is going to go well for my inbox). According to the world and its dog, it’s way ahead of everything else.

Now I’m an engineer and I like version control, can’t get enough of it, it’s a way of life—it’s what they teach you at engineering school. So I wanted to like Git (I don’t like the name, git has a meaning in England: git [noun] a contemptible, stupid or unpleasant person, usually a man—“You miserable git”), I had a couple of half-hearted attempts and gave up. I eventually had a proper go at it when I started the Practical Series website and after a lot of buggering about, I think I’ve finally got the hang of it.

I’m recommending using Git and GitHub from within the Brackets text editor, this makes the whole thing easier and more manageable; however, before Brackets can be used to do this, Git must be installed on the local machine and this isn’t quite as straight forward as it sounds (Git was developed by the same people who made Linux, and keeping to my understanding of Linux's standard operating procedures, it is by necessity, a right bastard to install).

Once Git is installed, it has to be set up and configured with the correct defaults and third party applications that make it work properly—this means buggering about with the command line interface and delving into the bits of windows that are normally best left alone.

There is quite a lot to set up and get working and these are my instructions for doing so. I’ve gone through each step of the process in painful detail, some bits are reasonably complicated, not much of it is intuitive, and the commands needed are hardly user friendly—hence the detailed approach.

  • I exclusively use Windows as my operating system (see here for why), this means that all the instructions I give here are for the Windows version of the software (I don’t cover the Mac OS or Linux versions).
†1 You had to be a teenager in the 80s, it’s from zork, an old text adventure.
†2 It’s even older colossal cave adventure. You can still play it online.

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