Chapter 14 RStudio, Git, GitHub Hell
Problems we have seen and possible solutions.
If you experience some new problem and, especially, find the corresponding solution, we’d love to hear from you!
14.1 I think I have installed Git but damn if I can find it
When you install Git, try to control or record where it is being installed! Make a mental or physical note of these things.
You may be able to find Git after the fact with these commands in the shell (Appendix A):
which git(Mac, Linux, or anything running a bash shell)
where git(Windows, when not in a bash shell)
It is not entirely crazy to just re-install Git, using a method that leaves it in a more conventional location, and to pay very close attention to where it’s being installed. Live and learn.
14.2 RStudio Git pane disappears on Mac OS
Sometimes the RStudio Git pane disappears on a system where it was previously working. This usually happens to people who installed Git by installing the Xcode command line tools. It is usually a sign that you need to re-agree to the Xcode license agreement. This is necessary after a Mac OS upgrade, re-installing Xcode, or even quiet Xcode upgrades that happen in normal system maintenance.
In the shell, you could execute
git status and you might see a message along these lines:
If you get such clear instructions, by all means do what it says, i.e. run
sudo xcodebuild -license, to re-agree to the license.
In any case, you need to tickle the Xcode command line tools to prompt you for whatever it needs. Here are other commands that, depending on the situation, might trigger the necessary prompts:
Then restart RStudio.
14.3 Dysfunctional PATH
I’m pretty sure that most cases of RStudio not automatically detecting the Git executable stem from problems with
PATH. This is the set of directories where your computer will look for executables, such as Git (today) or
make (later in this course). Certain methods of Git installation, especially on Windows and/or older OSes, have a higher tendency to put Git in an unconventional location or to fail to add the relevant directory to
How to see your
In the shell:
Take a good hard look at this. See the point above about finding your Git executable or re-installing it while you are wide awake. Is the host directory in your
PATH? No? Fix that.
Go here for instructions on what to put in your
.bash_profile in order to add a directory to
14.5 I have no idea if my local repo and my remote repo are connected.
See the above section on “Push/Pull buttons greyed out in RStudio.”
14.6 Push fail at the RStudio level
Do you get this error in RStudio?
error: unable to read askpass response from 'rpostback-askpass'
Open the shell: Tools > Shell.
git push -u origin master
14.7 Push rejected, i.e. fail at the Git/GitHub level
You might have changes on the remote AND on your local repo. Just because you don’t remember making any edits in the browser doesn’t mean you didn’t. Humor me.
Pull first. Resolve any conflicts. Then try your push again.
14.8 RStudio is not making certain files available for staging/committing
Do you have a space in your directory or file names? A space in a file name is a space in your soul. Get rid of it.
Is your Git repo / RStudio Project inside a folder that … eventually rolls up to Google Drive, DropBox, Microsoft OneDrive, or a network drive? If yes, I recommend you move the repo / Project into a plain old directory that lives directly on your computer and that is not managed by, e.g., Google Drive.
If you cannot deal with the two root causes identified above, then it is possible that a more powerful Git client (chapter 8) will be able to cope with these situations. But I make no promises. You should also try Git operations from the command line.
14.9 I hear you have some Git repo inside your Git repo
Do not create a Git repository inside another Git repository. Just don’t.
If you have a genuine need for this, which is really rare, the proper way to do it is via submodules.
In STAT 545, we certainly do not need to do this and when we’ve seen it, it’s been a mistake. This has resulted in the unexpected and complete loss of the inner Git repository. To be sure, there was more going on here (cough, GitHub Desktop client), but non-standard usage of Git repos makes it much easier to make costly mistakes.