I'm putting together some documentation and don't have access to a non-configured machine to test this myself

I'm curious if you need a GitHub account to clone a repository from GitHub to a local machine.

  • 1
    In the question title you ask "Can you clone a Github repository without an account?" but in the question you say "I'm curious if you need a Github account to clone a repository from Github to a local machine." These are logical opposites, which makes reading the answers confusing because the "No" answers seem reversed based on the title. @Stevoisiak Can you please fix it to make responses logically consistent? Maybe update the answers to be consistent based on which way you go with the title/text?
    – rjurney
    Mar 6, 2020 at 22:25
  • @rjurney I‘m not the question author, I simply made minor formatting edits.
    – Stevoisiak
    Mar 8, 2020 at 15:00
  • @Stevoisiak I get that. He's long gone. Can you fix up the question? I don't have access on Super User to do it and it is needlessly confusing.
    – rjurney
    Mar 9, 2020 at 16:21

4 Answers 4


No. You just use a different URL:

git clone https://github.com/SomeUser/SomeRepo.git

However, the local repo will be "read-only" in the sense that you won't be able to push your changes back to the original repo. You will still able to modify files and commit changes locally, though.

In contrast,

git clone [email protected]:UserName/OtherRepo.git

works only if you have properly set up your environment with the necessary SSH keys and whatnot, but in return you'll get a repository that permits you to commit/push the changes back to the remote repo.

(Sorry for the unintentional ad for GitHub, I just had it in mind.)

Edit: The original answer had the git protocol instead of https but GitHub has since then turned it off.

  • Awesome, thank you for the clarification. I'm aware of the limitations by approaching a clone this way, but it's fine for the context of the process I'm documenting.
    – Joseph Mainwaring
    Feb 26, 2013 at 20:29
  • @JosephMainwaring I'm glad to have helped. Please don't forget to accept my answer when you'll be able to do so.
    – H2CO3
    Feb 26, 2013 at 20:30
  • 2
    For GitLab it's git clone https://gitlab.com/SomeUser/SomeRepo.git Jun 6, 2017 at 9:46
  • 1
    So in fact the answer isn't no. It is yes, but only read only via the http method. You should change the answer to indicate this. "No" sounds like you can't git clone Github repos without having a user and logging in.
    – rjurney
    Mar 6, 2020 at 21:48
  • Wait: I'm wrong. Sorry. The question is actually what is confusing. I commented there to make the required edits, I don't have the privileges here to do it.
    – rjurney
    Mar 6, 2020 at 22:41

I was following some documentation for a product which required cloning from github. I didn't want to bother setting up an account so I needed to do exactly what was asked here.

The command in the documentation was:

git clone git://github.com/fcrepo4/fcrepo-message-consumer.git

but that just fails for me with.

Cloning into 'fcrepo-message-consumer'...
ssh: Could not resolve hostname github.com: nodename nor servname provided, or not known
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.

I tried

git clone git://github.com/fcrepo4/fcrepo-message-consumer.git

as suggested in one of the answers but that failed too with.

Cloning into 'fcrepo-message-consumer'...
fatal: Unable to look up github.com (port 9418) (nodename nor servname provided, or not known)

What finally worked was this:

git clone https://github.com/fcrepo4/fcrepo-message-consumer.git

Or just use http prefix , and .git suffix is not mandatory too :

You can check with

git clone http://github.com/tizenteam/iotivity-example

Related info:


  • Anonymous download actually wouldn't work for me until I removed the .git suffix.
    – jhfrontz
    Jun 8, 2018 at 14:42
  • Removing .git also works with the standard https clone url Jan 27 at 23:53

You could use Github Tokens https://github.com/settings/tokens and use this:

git config --global url."https://${GITHUB_TOKEN}:[email protected]/".insteadOf "https://github.com/"

(replace ${GITHUB_TOKEN} with the actual token

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