Workspace Repository Setup

Before beginning these instructions you should have first updated your operating system and then installed the required software (Python 3.8, Visual Studio Code, and git).

0. Find Your Official UNC E-mail Address

Primary e-mail addresses DO NOT end in!

Many UNC students mistake their primary and their “active directory” (ad) e-mail addresses. Honestly, I’m not sure why ITS made such a mess of this. You will save yourself and your instructors confusion if you use your primary e-mail address, not your address, because your primary address is what Connect Carolina provides us as instructors!

Find your primary e-mail address by logging into Sakai, clicking on your name in the top right corner, selecting Profile, and looking under the Email field:

Use your primary e-mail address when you register for GitHub.

1. Register for GitHub

GitHub is for backing up your course Workspace Repository and for downloading course materials.

You can think of GitHub as a social network where people and organizations share and collaborate on code with one another. Organizations like NASA, NOAA, Peace Corps, Washington Post, New York Times, and so on, host projects publicly (and privately) on GitHub. It’s a valuable service for data scientists, software engineers, research teams, and more.

Your coursework will have its own private “git repository”. The technology we use for backing up versions of our projects and transmitting them to or from the internet, hosted on GitHub, is called git. Visual Studio Code has git support built into it. Git is a powerful version control tool we will only scrape the surface of in COMP110, but if you continue on in a field that involves programming and data you’ll encounter it again.

  1. Register for a GitHub account with your primary UNC address:
  2. After registering, edit your profile from this page:
    • Be sure your name and email match what you used on Course.Care
    • Fill out the rest of your GitHub profile with a high quality photo of yourself, a brief bio, UNC Chapel Hill as your “company”, and Chapel Hill (or home) as your location if you are going to continue in a field that involves programming (computer science, data science, information science, and so on). Think of this as a secondary LinkedIn when it comes to future opportunities, because that’s often how employers and graduate schools look at it.

2. Accept the GitHub Classroom “COMP110 Workspace” Assignment

  1. Navigate to
  2. “Accept” the assignment and select your onyen from the list of students in the class. If you do not see it, continue without selecting it.
  3. Please wait a moment while your repository is setup. The progress bars can take a few minutes to complete. In strange scenarios they can spin for longer. Take a break, there’s plenty of time to complete this!
  4. Once ready you will see a link to your repository. Click it to be brought to your Workspace Repository on GitHub. You’ll learn more about this through the course.
  5. Look for the Green “Code” Button. Click it.
  6. You should see “Clone with HTTPS”
    • If you do not, click the HTTP link in the corner of the popup.
  7. Click the Clipboard icon to copy your repository’s URL to your computer’s copy/paste clipboard. You’ll need this address in the next step.

3. Setup your Workspace in Visual Studio Code

  1. Open Visual Studio Code
  2. Open the View menu and select Command Palette
    • You’ll use the Command Palette a lot so it’s worth trying to remember its shortcut!
    • Windows: Control+Shift+P
    • Mac: Command+Shift+P
  3. Type in “Git: Clone” (without the quotes) and press Enter.
  4. Paste your Workspace Repository URL copied above in part 1, step 7).
    • Right click in the text box and select Paste
    • Or use the Paste keyboard shortcut: Control+V Windows / Command+V Mac
  5. Press Enter and you will be asked where you want your course workspace repository to be saved on your computer. Just accepting the default suggestion is OK.
  6. Visual Studio Code may ask you to enter your GitHub username and password in the same place you just entered your Workspace Repository URL. If you don’t see this prompt you can proceed to step 7.
    • If it asks for your GitHub username, type it in and press enter. Your username can be found in the top left of your GitHub profile at
    • If it asks for your GitHub password, type it in and press enter. Your password will show up as dots as you type.
  7. Press OK when asked if you would like to Open the repository after it downloads.

4. Installing Libraries and Plugins

  1. Select “Install All” in the popup notifying you “This workspace has extension recommendations.”
    • VSCode will ask you to restart for the Pylance extension. Allow it to.
    • Press ignore for any additional prompts to install additional plugins such as pytest or flake8. For these you can click the gear icon and ask VSCode to stop recommending them.
  2. Open the File menu, followed by Open Recent and you should see the top entry listed as something like “comp110-workspace-f20-USERNAME” where USERNAME is your GitHub username.
    • If you do not, try the steps of the previous section again.
  3. In the future, if you open VS Code and need to get back to your COMP110 Workspace, the easiest way is to repeat step 2 above.
  4. In the bottom, blue “status bar” you should now see Python followed by a version number. If the version number is not there or is not 3.8.5 or greater, follow the next bullet:
    • Open the View menu and Command Palette. Type “Python: Select Interpreter” (without the quotes) and press Enter. From the list that pops up choose Python 3.8.5 or greater.
  5. Open the View menu and select Terminal to bring up the built-in terminal.
  6. In the Terminal type the following command, being careful to match it exactly.
  1. Press Enter to run the command. This command installs additional Python libraries, which give you special functionalities used later in the course.

5. Configure your git Name and E-mail

  1. If your Terminal window from above is still open, great! If not, open a new Terminal pane in VS Code.
  2. At the prompt, type the following command and press enter with your primary e-mail address inside the double quotes:

git config --global ""

  1. Then, type tye following command and press enter with your first and last name inside the double quotes:

git config --global "Your Name"

After doing this, when you make backup commits in git (which you’ll do shortly!) they’ll be correctly attributed to you.

6. Setup Upstream Course Material Repository

As new material is added through the course you will be able to easily download it into your personal course workspace repository after following these steps.

  1. Open the View menu and select Command Palette
  2. Type in Git: Add Remote and press enter with the option selected.
  3. Copy and paste the URL below into the text box that says “Provide repository URL” and press enter:
  4. When asked for “Remote name” type in:
    • upstream
  5. Press enter.
  6. Open the View menu and select Command Palette once more
  7. Type in Git: Fetch From All Remotes and press enter
  8. The upstream remote repository is now registered! In an upcoming lesson you will learn how to download new material from this repository.

7. Operating System Specific Configuration


If your laptop is running Windows, you should change the default shell in VSCode to be Git Bash.

  1. Open the View menu and select Command Palette (or press Control + Shift + P)
  2. Type: Select Default Shell
  3. Press Enter
  4. From the dropdown list, you should see Git Bash. Select it.


If your laptop is running macOS, you should confirm the default shell in VSCode is zsh. This should already be the case, but to be sure, run these steps:

  1. Open the View menu and select Command Palette (or press Control + Shift + P)
  2. Type: Select Default Shell
  3. Press Enter
  4. From the dropdown list, you should see zsh in one of the options. Select it.

It is handy to be able to open Visual Studio Code from your Terminal using the code command in the future. To register this:

  1. Open the View menu and select Command Palette (or press Command + Shift + P)
  2. Type: Install code command
  3. Press Enter

8. Confirm Everything is Good to Go

From the View Menu, select Explorer. You should see a left-hand sidebar with comp110-WORKSPACE at the top and if you expand it you should see demos, exercises, lessons, projects, and These are folders, which we refer to more technically as directories, and files in your workspace.

Let’s be sure you are able to exit out of VSCode and find your work again. Go ahead and close VSCode. Then open new window. If you see the same files in the left-hand sidebar: great! Keep reading, though, so you know what to do in the future if you do not see your workspace. If you do not see your workspace files in the Explorer sidebar, go to File, select Open Recent, and look for the topmost entry that is comp110-workspace-20f-yourusername and select it. This is how you can get back to your workspace most easily in the future.

Your software is now ready for Exercise 0! Great work!