Stephan Lamoureux

Stephan Lamoureux

Git a Grip: Part 1 - Initial Setup 💻

The goal of this series is to create small, easy-to-digest lessons that get progressively more in-depth. Hopefully, this can turn into a quick reference guide while also being a non-intimidating way to learn Git.

What is Git?

In this article, we will be going over the basic steps to get you started with Git and GitHub.

Git is a free open-source version control program written by the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds. It is used for keeping track of changes in files and coordinating work among programmers who are collaboratively developing software.


No matter which operating system you use, installing Git is usually as simple as downloading a single file. In some cases, you may already have it installed on your computer.

If you are unsure if you already have Git installed or want to check which version you currently have, type git --version into your terminal to find out. It should return something like git version 2.30.1


The Windows operating system does not come with Git pre-installed, but here are two simple ways to install it onto your PC:

  • Download Git
  • Install with chocolatey by entering choco install git -y into the terminal.

If installing via chocolatey, remember to open Power Shell as an administrator. You can do this by right-clicking on the Start menu and selecting Power Shell (Admin). If you have the Power Shell pinned to your taskbar, you can also hold down the Shift key and right-click the icon to select Run as administrator.


macOS already comes with Git pre-installed, however, it is most likely an older version. To get the latest version use one of the following methods:

  • Download Git
  • Install with homebrew by entering brew install git into the terminal.


There is a good chance that Git will already be on most Linux distributions. If not, there is an official install guide for most of the popular distros.


GitHub is essentially Git for the cloud. It gives you a safe place to store your code and makes collaboration easier. It has all of the standard features of Git along with many more added-in. Arguably one of its biggest features is its social networking, which allows users from all around the globe to share their work and contribute to others.

Create a GitHub account

If you don't have an account yet, signing up at GitHub is painless. Also, if you are a student make sure to apply for the Github Student Developer Pack. It provides a TON of high-quality free resources including a GitHub Pro account, Frontend Masters subscription, free domain names, and much more!

GitHub Desktop

While you are there, you might as well download the GitHub Desktop application too. It is very useful and quite easy to use. Just be aware that this app cannot do everything that Git is capable of and we will be using the command line only in this series. Currently, it is only officially available for macOS and Windows, but there are some workarounds to get it on a few of the Linux distros. Check out this DEV article on installation instructions for Debian/Ubuntu and Red Hat/CentOS/Fedora distributions.


We're almost finished with our initial setup. The last thing we need to do is configure Git to associate our work with ourselves. Open up your terminal and enter the following commands to update your Git profile:

  1. Set your name:

    git config --global "Your Name"
  2. Add your email address:

    git config --global ""
  3. Link to your GitHub account:

    git config --global user.username "github username" (case sensitive!)

Make sure you are inputting user.username and not otherwise you will overwrite your name and you will not be correctly synced to your GitHub account.

You can double-check any of your settings by typing git config --global and so on. To make any changes just type the necessary command again as mentioned in steps 1-3 to overwrite.

One last configuration I make is to change the name of the initial branch from master to main. I'd rather use more inclusive terms when possible, and another popular name to use for it is trunk. We will go over branches in depth later but for now, here is how to do this:

git config --global init.defaultBranch main

Edit: The above method only works after you have made your first commit.

Another way to do this without having to commit first is found here. These are the steps listed in the post:

  1. Navigate to the directory where your project sits.
  2. In it, show hidden files since, by default, .git would be hidden.
  3. Inside .git, there is a file, HEAD, open it in a text editor.
  4. You'd see, ref: refs/heads/master. Simple enough, change, master to main.


That should cover everything we need to get started, I'll see you in the next article where we will learn some basic terminal commands and create our first repository.

Git a Grip (3 Part Series)
Git a Grip: Part 1 - Initial Setup 💻
Git a Grip: Part 2 - Don't Fear Commitment 💍
Git a Grip: Part 3 - Ah, push it - push it real good 🔊
Git a Grip: Part 4 - Coming Soon