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.


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

The basic workflow of RepoBee is best described by example. In this section, I will walk you through how to set up a target 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. Set up the master repos.
  5. Set up the student repos.

This should leave you with enough knowledge to use the rudimentary features of RepoBee. There is much more to RepoBee, such as opening/closing issues, updating student repos and cloning repos in batches. This is covered in later sections, but you don’t necessarily need to go through the entire guide in one go. Now, let’s delve into the above 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 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.

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 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.


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

While you can set this token in an environment variable (see Configuration), it’s more convenient to just put it in the configuration file, as you will put other default values in there. 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
master_org_name = master-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 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, 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
    • Enter gitlab for the plugins option.

That’s it for configuration. The show-config command can be used to check that you got everything correctly.

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

If you ever want to re-configure some of the options, simply run the config-wizard command again.

Verify settings


verify-settings is not yet supported by the gitlab plugin.

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 access token scopes ...
[INFO] SUCCESS: access token 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!

Set 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.


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

Set up student repositories

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 slarse, glassey and glennol. 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 slarse and glassey in the same group.

slarse glassey

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). Since I often manage different sets of students, that’s seldom convenient for me, but if you always manage the same set of students I recommend setting that option so you can omit it from the command line arguments. Now, I want to create one student repo for each master repo and student. 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, 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 task-1 task-2 --sf students.txt
[INFO] Cloning into master repos ...
[INFO] Cloning into file:///home/slarse/tmp/task-1
[INFO] Cloning into file:///home/slarse/tmp/task-2
[INFO] Created team glennol
[INFO] Created team glassey
[INFO] Created team slarse
[INFO] Adding members glennol to team glennol
[WARNING] user glennol does not exist
[INFO] Adding members glassey to team glassey
[INFO] Adding members slarse to team slarse
[INFO] Creating student repos ...
[INFO] Created repobee-demo/glennol-task-1
[INFO] Created repobee-demo/glassey-task-1
[INFO] Created repobee-demo/slarse-task-1
[INFO] Created repobee-demo/glennol-task-2
[INFO] Created repobee-demo/glassey-task-2
[INFO] Created repobee-demo/slarse-task-2
[INFO] Pushing files to student repos ...
[INFO] Pushing, attempt 1/3
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/glassey-task-2 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/glassey-task-1 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/slarse-task-1 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/glennol-task-2 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/glennol-task-1 master
[INFO] Pushed files to https://some-enterprise-host/repobee-demo/slarse-task-2 master


If you have specified the students_file option in the config file, then you don’t need to specify --sf students.txt on the command line. Remember also that options specified on the command line always take precedence over those in the configuration file, so you can override the default students file if you wish by specifying --sf..

Note that there was a [WARNING] message for the username glennol: 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 for setting up the course, the organization is primed and the students should have access to their repositories!