Getting started


This guide assumes that the user has access to a bash-like shell, or is tech-savvy enough to translate the instructions into some other shell environment.


Whenever you see specific mentions of GitHub, refer to the RepoBee and GitLab section for how this translates to use with GitLab and RepoBee and Gitea for the equivalent information for Gitea.

The basic workflow of RepoBee is best described by example. This guide will take you through most of RepoBee’s core functionality with using less realistic examples as the backdrop. In this first section, we will set up everything on the hosting platform, and configure RepoBee to interface with the hosting platform. The steps are as follows.

  1. Create an organization (the target organization).

  2. Configure RepoBee for the target organization.

  3. Verify settings.

  4. Set up the template repos.

When this initial setup is over and done with, the following parts of the guide will teach you how to use the most fundamental parts of RepoBee.

Create an organization

This is an absolutely necessary pre-requisite for using RepoBee. Create an organization with an appropriate name on the platform instance you intend to use. You can find the New organization button by going to Settings -> Organization. I will call my target organization repobee-demo, so whenever you see that, substitute in the name of your target organization.


At KTH, we most often do not want our students to be able to see each others’ repos. By default, however, members have read access to all repos. To change this, go to the organization dashboard and find your way to Settings -> Member privileges. There should be a drop-down called something along the lines of “Base permissions” or “Default repository settings”, which you will want to set to None. The placement and name of this drop-down has changed places twice since the first iteration of this documentation, so it may not be an exact match, but you should find it somewhere around there.

RepoBee command structure

All commands in repobee are ordered in categories, each category containing a set of related actions. All core commands are invoked like so.

$ repobee <category> <action>

You can view all available categories like so.

RepoBee’s top-level help section, listing all categories
$ repobee -h
usage: repobee [-h] [-v] {repos,teams,issues,reviews,config,plugin,manage} ...

A CLI tool for administrating large amounts of git repositories on GitHub and
GitLab instances. Read the docs at:

Loaded plugins: distmanager-3.0.0-beta.1, pluginmanager-3.0.0-beta.1

positional arguments:
    repos               manage repositories
    teams               manage teams
    issues              manage issues
    reviews             manage peer reviews
    config              configure RepoBee
    plugin              manage plugins
    manage              manage the RepoBee installation

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --version         display version info

The categories are listed under the positional arguments. To view the actions available for any one category, simply type repobee <category> -h. As an example, we can have a look at the repos category to see the available actions.

The help section for the repos category
$ repobee repos -h
usage: repobee repos [-h] {setup,update,clone,migrate} ...

Manage repositories.

positional arguments:
    setup               setup student repos and associated teams
    update              update existing student repos
    clone               clone student repos
    migrate             migrate repositories into the target organization

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit

Similarly, to access the help section of a given action, simply type repobee <category> <action> -h.


If you have followed the instructions from the installer and are using bash or zsh, RepoBee’s tab completion should help you significantly in navigating the different categories!

Configure RepoBee for the target organization (the config category)

In this section, we’ll cover the config category of commands. These are used to configure RepoBee.

Editing the global configuration file (the wizard and show actions)

For RepoBee to work at all, it needs to be provided with an access token to whichever platform instance you intend to use. See the GitHub access token docs for how to create a token. The token should have the repo and admin:org scopes. If you will be using GitHub Actions, the token should have the workflow scope as well. You can either set this token in the REPOBEE_TOKEN environment variable with whatever method you deem appropriate, or you can put it in the configuration file as described next.


See Getting an access token for GitLab if you use GitLab!


See Getting an access token for Gitea if you use Gitea!

The config wizard command starts a configuration wizard that prompts you for default values for the available settings. The defaults that are set in the configuration file are just defaults, and can always be overridden on the command line. For the rest of this guide, I will assume that the config file has defaults for at least the following:

base_url = https://some-enterprise-host/api/v3
user = slarse
org_name = repobee-demo
template_org_name = template-repos

Now, run repobee config wizard and enter your own values for the options shown above. To skip an option, simply press ENTER without first typing in a value. Here are some pointers regarding the different values:

  • Enter the correct url for your platform instance. There are two options:
    • If you are working with GitHub Enterprise, simply replace some-enterprise-host with the appropriate hostname.

    • If you are working with, replace the whole url with

  • Replace slarse with your GitHub username.

  • Replace repobee-demo with whatever you named your target organization.

  • Replace SUPER_SECRET_TOKEN with your access token.

  • Replace template_org_name with the name of the organization with your template repos.
    • It you keep the template repos in the target organization or locally, skip this option.

  • If you are using GitLab:
    • The base_url should be to the host, not to the API endpoint. I.e. if you are using, then the base_url option should simply read

  • If you are using Gitea:
    • The base_url should be https://yourgiteadomain/api/v1.


If you use GitLab or Gitea, you must also activate the corresponding plugin. See Plugins for RepoBee (the plugin category).

That’s it for configuration. The show action can be used to check that you got everything set correctly.

$ repobee config show
Found valid config file at /home/slarse/.config/repobee/config.ini
----------------BEGIN CONFIG FILE-----------------
base_url = https://some-enterprise-host/api/v3
user = slarse
org_name = repobee-demo
template_org_name = template-repos
token = xxxxxxxxxx
-----------------END CONFIG FILE------------------

Note that the token is not shown. To show secrets in the configuration file, provide the --secrets option to config show. If you ever want to re-configure some of the options, simply run config wizard again.

Local repobee.ini config files

When executing a command, RepoBee will first look for a “local” config file called repobee.ini. It starts looking for this file in the current working directory, and then proceeds searching up the directory tree until it hits the root of the file system. If a repobee.ini file is found, it completely overrides the global config file. This is useful for managing different courses or groups within courses, with different settings.

The easiest way to create a local config file is to use the config wizard command, while explicitly specifying the config file path.

$ repobee --config-file repobee.ini config wizard

The config wizard command will proceed as usual, but it will write the results to the local repobee.ini file. After having created repobee.ini, there is no need to explicitly specify it when running RepoBee, so long as it’s in the current working directory.

The students file

Most RepoBee commands allow you to specify the students for whose repos you want to do something either directly on the command line with the --students option, or via a file that we refer to as a students file. A default for this file can be set in the config file as the students_file option, but it can also be provided on the command line with the --students-file option.

The format of the students file is simple: each line contains a whitespace separated list of student usernames, and represents a team of students. For example, the following students file represents single-student teams and would make for individual tasks.


The above file will be assumed to be available as students.txt throughout the rest of the user guide.

For group assignments, simply place multiple student usernames on a line to form a multi-student teams. The following example places slarse and glassey in the same team, and glennol in a separate one.

slarse glassey

The order of usernames on a line does not matter; they are always sorted lexicographically after parsing. See Group assignments for more information on group assignments.

Verifying the configuration (the verify action)

Now that everything is set up, it’s time to verify all of the settings. Given that you have a configuration file that looks something like the one above, you can simply run the config verify command without any options.

$ repobee config verify
Verifying settings ...
Trying to fetch user information ...
SUCCESS: found user slarse, user exists and base url looks okay
Verifying access token scopes ...
SUCCESS: access token scopes look okay
Trying to fetch organization ...
SUCCESS: found organization test-tools
Verifying that user slarse is an owner of organization repobee-demo
SUCCESS: user slarse is an owner of organization repobee-demo
Trying to fetch organization template-repos ...
SUCCESS: found organization template-repos
Verifying that user slarse is an owner of organization template-repos
SUCCESS: user slarse is an owner of organization template-repos
GREAT SUCCESS: All settings check out!

If any of the checks fail, you should be provided with a semi-helpful error message. When all checks pass and you get GREAT SUCCESS, move on to the next section!


Less privileged users, such as teaching assistants that have been assigned with the tamanager plugin, may see a warning about not being an owner of the organization. That’s fine and expected, but note that this may make them unable to execute certain commands, such as those creating teams and repositories.

Set up template repos

How you do this will depend on where you want to have your template repos. I recommend having a separate, persistent organization so that you can work on repos across course rounds. If you already have a template organization with your template repos set up somewhere, and template_org_name is specified in the config, you’re good to go. If you need to migrate repos into the target organization (e.g. if you keep template repos in the target organization), see the Migrate repositories into the target (or template) organization (the migrate action) section. For all commands but the migrate command, the way you set this up does not matter as far as RepoBee commands go.


Recall that there is nothing special about template repos, they are just your templates for student repos. If you have an organization set up with template repositories, then that is a viable template organization.

With this initial setup out of the way, it is time to move on to setting up and managing student repositories in Managing student repositories (the repos category).