Getting started (the show-config, verify-settings and setup commands)


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

The basic workflow of RepoBee is best described by example. In this section, I will walk you through how to set up an Organization with master and student repositories by showing every single step I would perform myself. The basic workflow can be summarized in the following steps:

  1. Create an organization (the target organization).
  2. Configure RepoBee for the target organization.
  3. Verify settings.
  4. Setting up the master repos.
  5. Setting up the student repos.

There is more to RepoBee, such as opening/closing issues, updating student repos and cloning repos in batches, but here we will just look at the bare minimum to get started. Now, let’s delve into these steps in greater detail.

Create an organization

This is an absolutely necessary pre-requisite for using RepoBee. Create an organization with an appropriate name on the GitHub 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. At the very bottom, there should be a section called Default repository permission. Set this to None to disallow students from viewing each others’ repos unless explicitly given permission by an organization owner (e.g. you).

Configure RepoBee for the target organization (show-config and verify-settings)

For the tool to work at all, it needs to be provided with an OAUTH2 token to whichever GitHub instance you intend to use. See the GitHub OAUTH docs for how to create a token. The token should have the repo and admin:org scopes. While we can set this token in an environment variable (see Configuration), it’s more convenient to just put it in the configuration file, as we will put other default values in there. We can use the show-config command to figure out where to put the config file.

$ repobee show-config
[ERROR] FileError: no config file found, expected location: /home/USERNAME/.config/repobee/config.cnf

show-config will check that the configuration file exists and is syntactically correct. Well, technically it will try to load the config and fail to do so if it doesn’t exist or is incorrectly formatted and then display it to the user. Here, the error message is telling use that it expected a config file at /home/USERNAME/.config/repobee/config.cnf, so let’s add one there. It should look something like this:

github_base_url = https://some-enterprise-host/api/v3
user = slarse
org_name = repobee-demo
master_org_name = master-repos

Now, you need to substitute in some of your own values in place of mine.

  • Enter the correct url for your GitHub instance. There are two options:
    • If you are working with an enterprise instance, 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 OAUTH token.
  • Replace master_org_name with the name of the organization with your master repos. - It you keep the master repos in the target organization or locally, remove this option.


The rest of this guide assumes the simplest possible setup of _not_ having a separate master organization, but it is good practice to have the master repos separate for the sake of maintainability. If the master organization is configured in the config file, it won’t matter for any but the migrate command (which you don’t need then, anyway).

That’s it for configuration, and we can check that the file is correctly found and parsed by running show-config again:

$ repobee show-config
[INFO] found valid config file at /home/slarse/.config/repobee/config.cnf
----------------BEGIN CONFIG FILE-----------------
github_base_url = https://some-enterprise-host/api/v3
user = slarse
org_name = repobee-demo
master_org_name = master-repos
-----------------END CONFIG FILE------------------

Verify settings

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 verify-settings command without any options.

$ repobee verify-settings
[INFO] verifying settings ...
[INFO] trying to fetch user information ...
[INFO] SUCCESS: found user slarse, user exists and base url looks okay
[INFO] verifying oauth scopes ...
[INFO] SUCCESS: oauth scopes look okay
[INFO] trying to fetch organization ...
[INFO] SUCCESS: found organization test-tools
[INFO] verifying that user slarse is an owner of organization repobee-demo
[INFO] SUCCESS: user slarse is an owner of organization repobee-demo
[INFO] trying to fetch organization master-repos ...
[INFO] SUCCESS: found organization master-repos
[INFO] verifying that user slarse is an owner of organization master-repos
[INFO] SUCCESS: user slarse is an owner of organization master-repos
[INFO] 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!

Setting up master repos

How you do this will depend on where you want to have your master repos. I recommend having a separate, persistent organization so that you can work on repos across course rounds. If you already have a master organization with your master repos set up somewhere, and master_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 master repos in the target organization), see the Migrate repositories into the target (or master) organization (migrate command) section. For all commands but the migrate command, the way you set this up does not matter as far as RepoBee commands go.

Setup student sepositories

Now that the master repos are set up, it’s time to create the student repos. While student usernames can be specified on the command line, it’s often convenient to have them written down in a file instead. Let’s pretend I have three students with usernames spam, ham and eggs. I’ll simply create a file called students.txt and type each username on a separate line.



Since v1.3.0: It is now possible to specify groups of students to get access to the same repos by putting multiple usernames on the same line, separated by spaces. For example, the following file will put spam and ham in the same group.

spam ham

See Group assignments for details.

An absolute file path to this file can be added to the config file with the students_file option (see Configuration file). Now, I want to create one student repo for each student per master repo. The repo names will be on the form <username>-<master-repo-name>, guaranteeing their uniqueness. Each student will also be added to a team (which bears the same name as the student’s user), and it is the team that is allowed access to the student’s repos, and not the student’s actual user. That all sounded fairly complex, but again, it’s as simple as issuing a single command with RepoBee.

$ repobee setup -mn master-repo-1 master-repo-2 -sf students.txt
[INFO] cloning into master repos ...
[INFO] cloning into file:///home/slarse/tmp/master-repo-1
[INFO] cloning into file:///home/slarse/tmp/master-repo-2
[INFO] created team eggs
[INFO] created team ham
[INFO] created team spam
[INFO] adding members eggs to team eggs
[WARNING] user eggs does not exist
[INFO] adding members ham to team ham
[INFO] adding members spam to team spam
[INFO] creating student repos ...
[INFO] created repobee-demo/eggs-master-repo-1
[INFO] created repobee-demo/ham-master-repo-1
[INFO] created repobee-demo/spam-master-repo-1
[INFO] created repobee-demo/eggs-master-repo-2
[INFO] created repobee-demo/ham-master-repo-2
[INFO] created repobee-demo/spam-master-repo-2
[INFO] pushing files to student repos ...
[INFO] pushing, attempt 1/3
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/ham-master-repo-2 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/ham-master-repo-1 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/spam-master-repo-1 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/eggs-master-repo-2 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/eggs-master-repo-1 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/spam-master-repo-2 master

Note that there was a [WARNING] message for the username eggs: the user does not exist. At KTH, this is common, as many (sometimes most) first-time students will not have created their GitHub accounts until sometime after the course starts. These students will still have their repos created, but the users need to be added to their teams at a later time (to do this, simply run the setup command again for these students, once they have created accounts). This is one reason why we use teams for access privileges: it’s easy to set everything up even when the students have yet to create their accounts (given that their usernames are pre-determined).

And that’s it, the organization is primed and the students should have access to their repositories!