Basic Git Commands You Must Know [Download Cheat Sheet]

This quick guide shows you all the basic Git commands and their usage. You can also download these commands for quick reference.
Warp Terminal

You have seen the quick guide and Vi cheat sheet download in an earlier post. In this article, we’ll see all the basic Git commands you need to get started with it.

What is Git?

Git is a distributed version control system that is widely used by a number of open source projects. It was started in the year 2005 by Linux creator, Linus Torvalds. The program allows for the non-linear development of projects and can handle large amounts of data effectively by storing it on the local server.

In this tutorial, we will play around Git and learn how to get started.

I am using Ubuntu in this tutorial but you can use any Linux distribution of your choice. Apart from installation, the rest of the commands are the same in all Linux distributions.

Install Git

To install git on Ubuntu and other Ubuntu-based systems, run this command :

sudo apt install git

After it is finished, you will have Git installed and ready to use.

Setup Git

After Git is installed, whether from apt or from the source, you need to copy your username and email in the gitconfig file. You can later access this file at ~/.gitconfig.

You can use the follow commands to add in the required information. Replace ‘User’ with your username and ‘[email protected]’ with your email.

git config --global "User"
git config --global [email protected]

Now you can open it using vim editor or any of your favourite text editors.

sudo vim ~/.gitconfig

And you are done with setting up. Now let’s get started with Git.


Create a new directory, open it and run this command:

git init
create a new git repository with git init
Create a New Git Repository With git init

This will create a new git repository. Your local repository consists of three “trees” maintained by git.

First one is your Working Directory which holds the actual files. Second one is the Index which acts as a staging area and finally the HEAD which points to the last commit you’ve made.

Checkout your repository (repository you just created or an existing repository on a server) using:

git clone /path/to/repository

Add files and commit

You can propose changes using:

git add <filename>

Where “filename” is an existing file. This will add a new file for the commit. If you want to add every new file, then just do:

git add --all

Your files are added check your status using

git status
add files for commit and check status
Add Files for Commit and Check Status

As you can see, there are changes but they are not committed. Now you need to commit these changes, use:

git commit -m "Commit message"
commit changes with inline commit message
Commit Changes With Inline Commit Message

You can also do (preferred):

git commit -a
add commit message in nano editor
Add Commit Message in nano Editor

And then write your commit message. Now the file is committed to the HEAD, but not in your remote repository yet.

Push your changes

Your changes are in the HEAD of your local working copy. If you have not cloned an existing repository and want to connect your repository to a remote server, you need to add it first with:

git remote add origin <serveraddress>

Now you are able to push your changes to the selected remote server. To send those changes to your remote repository, run:

git push -u origin master


Branches are used to develop features which are isolated from each other. The master branch is the “default” branch when you create a repository. Use other branches for development and merge them back to the master branch upon completion.

Create a new branch named “mybranch” and switch to it using:

git checkout -b mybranch
create a new branch and switch
Create a New Branch and Switch

You can switch back to master by running:

git checkout master

If you want to delete the branch use:

git branch -d mybranch
switching to master and delete an existing branch
Switching to master and Delete an Existing Branch

A branch is not available to others unless you push the branch to your remote repository, so what are you thinking about just push it:

git push origin <branchname>

Update and  Merge

To update your local repository to the newest commit, run:

git pull

In your working directory to fetch and merge remote changes.

To merge another branch into your active branch (e.g. master), use :

git merge <branch>

In both cases, git tries to auto-merge changes. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and results in conflicts. You are responsible for merging those conflicts manually by editing the files shown by git. After changing, you need to mark them as merged with:

git add <filename>

Before merging changes, you can also preview them by using

git diff <sourcebranch> <targetbranch>

Git log

You can see the repository history using:

git log

To see a log where each commit is one line you can use:

git log --pretty=oneline
see log where each commit is one line
See Log Where Each Commit is One Line

Or maybe you want to see an ASCII art tree of all the branches, decorated with the names of tags and branches:

git log --graph --oneline --decorate --all
log decorated with the names of tags and branches
Log Decorated With the Names of Tags and Branches

If you want to see only which files have changed:

git log --name-status

And for any help during the entire process, you can use git --help

Congratulation, you are done with the basics of git. Isn’t Git awesome!!

Free Git Cheatsheet

If you like, you can download these basic Git commands as a quick reference guide from the link below:

Questions? Suggestions? The comment section is yours.

About the author
Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash

Created It's FOSS 11 years ago to share my Linux adventures. Have a Master's degree in Engineering and years of IT industry experience. Huge fan of Agatha Christie detective mysteries 🕵️‍♂️

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