Jim Westergren
About me, my projects, SEO, Web Development and Personal Development since 2005
"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas A. Edison

Git with GitHub the Simple Way

This is what is working for me and may not be the best for you. This is very beginner level. I am using the Git Bash from here.

Starting a new repo

Create the repo in GitHub, include readme.

Create a team in Github and make sure you have access to the repo.

Create a new folder in local computer

Start the git bash and do the following:

cd newfolder
git init
git remote add origin [email protected]:organisationname/repo-name.git
git pull origin master

Now all is set with the new repo.

Git commands I use

First go to the correct folder:

cd folder

Then always first take the latest from Github otherwise you will get conflicts. Always run this just in case:

git pull origin master

If you get the following error:

error: Your local changes to the following files would be overwritten by merge

Then instead do:

git stash
git pull origin master
git stash pop

Add your changes:

git add . -A

Make a commit with the changes and a message:

git commit -m 'Message what this commit is about'

Then push it to Github:

git push origin master

Remove your last commit but keep files as is

(so you can pull without merge conflict)

git reset HEAD^

Making the server pull from GitHub automatically

More info about this section here.

Install git on the server using this or similar:

apt-get install git

Generate a new SSH key using the same email that you have in GitHub:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "[email protected]"

When coming Enter file in which to save the key ... just press enter.

The passphrase can be empty I guess otherwise it will complicate things. An attacker anyway needs the file with the key on the server and if they have access to the server, well then git is not something you really worry about. But in that case delete the key from Github.

Run this to ensure ssh-agent is enabled:

eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"

Add your generated SSH key to the ssh-agent:

ssh-add /root/.ssh/id_rsa

Use cat /root/.ssh/id_rsa.pub and copy the SSH key to your clipboard.

Add your key to your Github account on this page. As a name write nginx test server or whatever name you have for this server.

Test the connection according to this info.

Then create the folder on the server, such as:

cd /var/www/
mkdir foldername

Then initiate git on the folder using:

git init

Automatic pulling from server using PHP

Create a new file such as gitupdate.php in GitHub with the following:

$output = shell_exec('/usr/bin/git --work-tree=/var/www/foldername --git-dir=/var/www/foldername/.git pull [email protected]:name/repo-name.git');
echo "<pre>".$output."</pre>";

Then run this command on the server to get the file from Github to the server:

cd /var/www/foldername
git --work-tree=/var/www/foldername --git-dir=/var/www/foldername/.git pull [email protected]:name/repo-name.git

Then make a change in for example the readme file in Github and enter gitupdate.php in your browser. Check if the readme file has been changed on the server.

If that works then just go to gitupdate.php in your browser whenever you want the files pulled to the server. No more FTP needed.

If it does not work it is probably due to a permission error. Don't waste 3 hours like me trying to solve that and just use cron instead according to the below instructions:

Automatic pulling from server using cron

We are making a shell script:

cd /var/www/
nano gitupdate.sh

Add the following to the file:

cd /var/www/directory
/usr/bin/git --work-tree=/var/www/directory --git-dir=/var/www/directory/.git pull [email protected]:name/repo-name.git

Make it executable:

chmod +x gitupdate.sh

Test to run it and see the output:


Set the cron:

crontab -e

Add this line at the bottom:

* * * * * /var/www/gitupdate.sh

Automatic pushing

Just change the git commands, for example:

/usr/bin/git add . -A;/usr/bin/git commit -m "From server";/usr/bin/git push origin master

That's it for now.

30 Apr 2015

About the Author Jim Westergren Jim Westergren is a Swedish web entrepreneur currently living in Spain. He is happily married and has three lovely children. Some of his interests are web development, SEO and writing.
He is the Founder of DomainStats and N.nu. Read his .