absolute path

The complete path from the root of the file system. Absolute paths always start with /. Example: /home/user/Pictures/xkcd-webcomics/530.png. See also relative path.

adjusted branch

(git-annex term) TODO


Git annex concept: a different word for object-tree.

annex UUID

A UUID assigned to an annex of each individual clone of a dataset repository. git-annex uses this UUID to track file content availability information. The UUID is available under the configuration key annex.uuid and is stored in the configuration file of a local clone (<dataset root>/.git/config). A single dataset instance (i.e. a local clone) has exactly one annex UUID, but other clones of the same dataset each have their own unique annex UUIDs.


A Unix shell and command language.


Git concept: A lightweight, independent history streak of your dataset. Branches can contain less, more, or changed files compared to other branches, and one can merge the changes a branch contains into another branch.




Git concept: A copy of a Git repository. In Git-terminology, all “installed” datasets are clones.


Git concept: Adding selected changes of a file or dataset to the repository, and thus making these changes part of the revision history of the repository. Should always have an informative commit message.

commit message

Git concept: A concise summary of changes you should attach to a datalad save command. This summary will show up in your DataLad dataset history.

DataLad dataset

A DataLad dataset is a Git repository that may or may not have a data annex that is used to manage data referenced in a dataset. In practice, most DataLad datasets will come with an annex.

DataLad subdataset

A DataLad dataset contained within a different DataLad dataset (the parent or DataLad superdataset).

DataLad superdataset

A DataLad dataset that contains one or more levels of other DataLad datasets (DataLad subdataset).

dataset ID

A UUID that identifies a dataset as a unit – across its entire history and flavors. This ID is stored in a dataset’s own configuration file (<dataset root>/.datalad/config) under the configuration key As this configuration is stored in a file that is part of the Git history of a dataset, this ID is identical for all clones of a dataset and across all its versions.


A common Linux distribution. More information here.


A digital object identifier (DOI) is a character string used to permanently identify a resource and link to in on the web. A DOI will always refer to the one resource it was assigned to, and only that one.

environment variable

A variable made up of a name/value pair. Programs using a given environment variable will use its associated value for their execution.


A web-based repository store for data management that you can use to host and share datasets. Find out more about GIN here.


A version control system to track changes made to small-sized files over time. You can find out more about git in this (free) book or these interactive Git tutorials on GitHub.


A distributed file synchronization system, enabling sharing and synchronizing collections of large files. It allows managing files with Git, without checking the file content into Git.

Git config file

A file in which Git stores configuration option. Such a file usually exists on the system, user, and repository (dataset) level.


GitHub is an online platform where one can store and share version controlled projects using Git (and thus also DataLad project). See` <>`_.


A repository browser that displays changes in a repository or a selected set of commits. It visualizes a commit graph, information related to each commit, and the files in the trees of each revision.


An online platform to host and share software projects version controlled with Git, similar to GitHub. See


A powerful pattern matching function of a shell. Allows to match the names of multiple files or directories. The most basic pattern is *, which matches any number of character, such that ls *.txt will list all .txt files in the current directory. You can read about more about Pattern Matching in Bash’s Docs.


Git concept: The default branch in a dataset.


Git concept: to integrate the changes of one branch/sibling/ … into a different branch.


“Data about data”: Information about one or more aspects of data used to summarize basic information, for example means of create of the data, creator or author, size, or purpose of the data. For example, a digital image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, the shutter speed, and other data.


A common text-editor.


git-annex concept: The place where git-annex stores available file contents. Files that are annexed get a symlink added to Git that points to the file content. A different word for annex.


Access rights assigned by most file systems that determine whether a user can view (read permission), change (write permission), or execute (execute permission) a specific content.

  • read permissions grant the ability to a file, or the contents (file names) in a directory.

  • write permissions grant the ability to modify a file. When content is stored in the object-tree by git-annex, your previously granted write permission for this content is revoked to prevent accidental modifications.

  • execute permissions grant the ability to execute a file. Any script that should be an executable needs to get such permission.


A Python package manager. Short for “Pip installs Python”. pip install <package name> searches the Python package index PyPi for a package and installs it while resolving any potential dependencies.


A record that describes entities and processes that were involved in producing or influencing a digital resource. It provides a critical foundation for assessing authenticity, enables trust, and allows reproducibility.

relative path

A path related to the present working directory. Relative paths never start with /. Example: ../Pictures/xkcd-webcomics/530.png. See also absolute path.


Git-terminology: A repository (and thus also DataLad dataset) that a given repository tracks.

run record

A command summary of a datalad run command, generated by DataLad and included in the commit message.


A hexadecimal number, 40 digits long, that is produced by a secure hash algorithm, and is used by Git to identify commits. A shasum is a type of checksum.


The characters #! at the very top of a script. One can specify the interpreter (i.e., the software that executes a script of yours, such as Python) after with it such as in #! /usr/bin/python. If the script has executable permissions, it is henceforth able to call the interpreter itself. Instead of python code/ one can just run code/myscript if myscript has executable permissions and a correctly specified shebang.

special remote

git-annex concept: A protocol that defines the underlying transport of annexed files to and from places that are not Git repositories (e.g., a cloud service or external machines such as HPC systems).


Secure shell (SSH) is a network protocol to link one machine (computer), the client, to a different local or remote machine, the server. See also: SSH server.

SSH key

An SSH key is an access credential in the SSH protocol that can be used to login from one system to remote servers and services, such as from your private computer to an SSH server, without supplying your username or password at each visit. To use an SSH key for authentication, you need to generate a key pair on the system you would like to use to access a remote system or service (most likely, your computer). The pair consists of a private and a public key. The public key is shared with the remote server, and the private key is used to authenticate your machine whenever you want to access the remote server or service. Services such as GitHub, GitLab, and GIN use SSH keys and the SSH protocol to ease access to repositories. This tutorial by GitHub is a detailed step-by-step instruction to generate and use SSH keys for authentication.

SSH server

An remote or local computer that users can log into using the SSH protocol.

A symbolic link (also symlink or soft link) is a reference to another file or path in the form of a relative path. Windows users are familiar with a similar concept: shortcuts.


DataLad concept: A dataset clone that a given DataLad dataset knows about. Changes can be retrieved and pushed between a dataset and its sibling.


Git concept: a submodule is a Git repository embedded inside another Git repository. A DataLad subdataset is known as a submodule in the Git config file.

tab completion

Also known as command-line completion. A common shell feature in which the program automatically fills in partially types commands upon pressing the TAB key.


Git concept: A mark on a commit that can help to identify commits. You can attach a tag with a name of your choice to any commit by supplying the --version-tag <TAG-NAME> option to datalad save.

the DataLad superdataset ///

DataLad provides unified access to a large amount of data at an open data collection found at This collection is known as “The DataLad superdataset” and under its shortcut, ///. You can install the superdataset – and subsequently query its content via metadata search – by running datalad clone ///.


A text-mode interface for git that allows you to easily browse through your commit history. It is not part of git and needs to be installed. Find out more here.


A common Linux distribution. More information here.


Universally Unique Identifier. It is a character string used for unambiguous, identification, formatted according to a specific standard. This identification is not only unambiguous and unique on a system, but indeed universally unique – no UUID exists twice anywhere on the planet. Every DataLad dataset has a UUID that identifies a dataset uniquely as a whole across its entire history and flavors called dataset ID that looks similar to this 0828ac72-f7c8-11e9-917f-a81e84238a11. This dataset ID will only exist once, identifying only one particular dataset on the planet. Note that this does not require all UUIDs to be known in some central database – the fact that no UUID exists twice is achieved by mere probability: The chance of a UUID being duplicated is so close to zero that it is negligible.

version control

Processes and tools to keep track of changes to documents or other collections of information.


A text editor, often the default in UNIX operating systems. If you are not used to using it, but ended up in it accidentally: press ESC : q ! Enter to exit without saving. Here is help: A vim tutorial and how to configure the default editor for git.


A Unix shell.