What is GitHub?

GitHub is a version control repository that is used widely by software developers for versioning and collaborating on code, both publicly and privately. It offers the functionality of Git (an open source version control system) with additional user features. The cloud version is called GitHub.com and the on-premises version is called GitHub Enterprise.

GitHub.com is a cloud-based service that is open to anyone in the world. It is free to use and you can create your own username and password.  You can collaborate freely with external users and there is usually a cost associated with making your repositories private. However, under Imperial College’s licence agreement, users are entitled to unlimited free private repositories.

GitHub Enterprise (GHE) offers similar functionality to GitHub.com and, from an end user perspective, the most discernible difference is that the header bar is a different colour from that in GitHub.com. The key difference is that GitHub Enterprise is not open to the outside world. All data is stored on-premise within College and you will need a College user account to log in and create repositories. It is intended for College members who work with sensitive data or who have a requirement for extra security in the storage of code, over and above that offered by private repositories in GitHub.com (e.g. researchers whose funder has placed stipulations on where the code may be physically located).  External collaborators may be invited to collaborate but they cannot own a repository.

What does College’s GitHub licence include?

Imperial College users are entitled to the following, for no charge:

  • To create unlimited public and free private repositories within Github.com
  • To move existing public or ‘paid-for’ repositories to the College license and thus, for the latter repository type, reduce their outlay on license subscriptions (see Working with GitHub.com)
  • Use a range of add-on tools and integrations are freely available from GitHub (see FAQ)
  • For code that needs to meet stricter security conditions, eg to meet sensitive data requirements or funder storage requirements, an on-premise version of GitHub, known as GitHub Enterprise, is also available. See below for more information.


How do I access free private repositories in GitHub.com?

Detailed instructions for working with repositories under Imperial College’s GitHub licence can be found here.

How do I create on-premise repositories using GitHub Enterprise?

Detailed instructions for working with on-premises repositories in GitHub Enterprise can be found here