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Contribute via Local Clone

In the following, it is outlined how to contribute to the HPC documentation of TU Dresden/ZIH via a local clone of the Git repository. Although, this document might seem very long describing complex steps, contributing is quite easy - trust us.

Initial Setup of your Local Clone

Please follow this standard Git procedure for working with a local clone:

  1. Fork the project on or request access to the project.
  2. Change to a local (unencrypted) filesystem. (We have seen problems running the container on an ecryptfs filesystem. So you might want to use e.g. /tmp as the start directory.)
  3. Create a new directory, e.g. with mkdir hpc-wiki
  4. Change into the new directory, e.g. cd hpc-wiki
  5. Clone the Git repository:
    1. git clone . (don't forget the dot)
    2. if you forked the repository, use git clone<YOUR_LOGIN>/hpc-compendium.git . (don't forget the dot). Add the original repository as a so-called remote: git remote add upstream-zih

Working with your Local Clone

  1. Whenever you start working on an issue, first make sure that your local data is up to date:
    1. git checkout preview
    2. git pull origin preview
    3. git pull upstream-zih preview (only required when you forked the project)
  2. Create a new feature branch for you to work in. Ideally, name it like the file you want to modify or the issue you want to work on, e.g.: git checkout -b 174-check-contribution-documentation for issue 174 with title "Check contribution documentation". (If you are uncertain about the name of a file, please look into mkdocs.yaml.)
  3. Improve the documentation with your preferred editor, i.e. add new files and correct mistakes.
  4. Use git add <FILE> to select your improvements for the next commit.
  5. Commit the changes with git commit -m "<DESCRIPTION>". The description should be a meaningful description of your changes. If you work on an issue, please also add "Closes 174" (for issue 174).
  6. Push the local changes to the GitLab server, e.g. with git push origin 174-check-contribution-documentation.
  7. As an output you get a link to create a merge request against the preview branch.
  8. When the merge request is created, a continuous integration (CI) pipeline automatically checks your contributions. If you forked the repository, these automatic checks are not available, but you can run checks locally.


When you contribute, please follow our content rules to make incorporating your changes easy. We also check these rules via continuous integration checks and/or reviews. You can find the details and commands to preview your changes and apply checks.

Merging of Forked Repositories

When you have forked the repository as mentioned above, the process for merging is a bit different from internal merge requests. Because branches of forks are not automatically checked by CI, someone with at least developer access needs to do some more steps to incorporate the changes of your MR:

  1. The developer informs you about the start of merging process.
  2. The developer needs to review your changes to make sure that your changes are specific and don't introduce problems, such as changes in the Dockerfile or any script could.
  3. The developer needs to create a branch in our repository. Let's call this "internal MR branch".
  4. The developer needs to change the target branch of your MR from "preview" to "internal MR branch".
  5. The developer needs to merge it.
  6. The developer needs to open another MR from "internal MR branch" to "preview" to check whether the changes pass the CI checks.
  7. The developer needs to fix things that were found by CI.
  8. The developer informs you about the MR or asks for your support while fixing the CI.

When you follow our content rules and run checks locally, you are making this process faster.

Tools to Ensure Quality

Assuming you already have a working Docker installation and have cloned the repository as mentioned above, a few more steps are necessary.

Build the docker image. This might take a bit longer, as mkdocs and other necessary software needs to be downloaded, but you have to run it only once in a while. Building a container could be done with the following steps:

cd hpc-wiki
docker build -t hpc-compendium .

To avoid a lot of retyping, use the following in your shell:

alias wikiscript="docker run --name=hpc-compendium --rm -w /docs --mount src=$PWD,target=/docs,type=bind hpc-compendium"
alias wiki="docker run --name=hpc-compendium -p 8000:8000 --rm -w /docs --mount src=$PWD/,target=/docs,type=bind hpc-compendium"

Working with the Docker Container

Here is a suggestion of a workflow which might be suitable for you.

Start the Local Web Server

The command(s) to start the dockerized web server is this:

wiki mkdocs serve -a

You can view the documentation via http://localhost:8000 in your browser, now.


You can keep the local web server running in this shell to always have the opportunity to see the result of your changes in the browser. Simply open another terminal window for other commands. If you cannot see the page in your browser, check if you can get the URL for your browser's address bar from a different terminal window:

echo http://$(docker inspect -f "{{.NetworkSettings.IPAddress}}" $(docker ps -qf "name=hpc-compendium")):8000

You can now update the contents in you preferred editor. The running container automatically takes care of file changes and rebuilds the documentation whenever you save a file.

With the details described below, it will then be easy to follow the guidelines for local correctness checks before submitting your changes and requesting the merge.

Run the Proposed Checks Inside Container

In our continuous integration (CI) pipeline, a merge request triggers the automated check of

  • correct links,
  • correct spelling,
  • correct text format.

These checks ensure a high quality and consistency of the content and follow our content rules. If one of them fails, the merge request will not be accepted. To prevent this, you can run these checks locally and adapt your files accordingly.

You are now ready to use the different checks, however we suggest to try the pre-commit hook.

Pre-commit Git Hook

We have several checks on the markdown sources to ensure for a consistent and high quality of the documentation. We recommend to automatically run checks whenever you try to commit a change. In this case, failing checks prevent commits (unless you use option --no-verify). This can be accomplished by adding a pre-commit hook to your local clone of the repository. The following code snippet shows how to do that:

cp .git/hooks/


The pre-commit hook only works, if you can use docker without using sudo. If this is not already the case, use the command adduser $USER docker to enable docker commands without sudo for the current user. Restart the docker daemons afterwards.

Read on if you want to run a specific check.


If you want to check whether the markdown files are formatted properly, use the following command:

wiki markdownlint docs

Spell Checker

For spell-checking a single file, e.g., use:


For spell-checking all files, use:

wikiscript -a

This outputs all words of all files that are unknown to the spell checker. To let the spell checker "know" a word, append it to

Check Pages Structure

The script util/ first checks the hierarchy depth of the pages structure and the second check tests if every markdown file is included in the navigation section of the mkdocs.yaml file. Invoke it as follows:


Unknown programmer

No one likes dead links.

Therefore, we check the internal and external links within the markdown source files. To check a single file, e.g., use:

wikiscript docs/software/

The script can also check all modified files, i.e., markdown files which are part of the repository and different to the main branch. Use this script before committing your changes to make sure your commit passes the CI/CD pipeline:


To check all markdown file, which may take a while and give a lot of output, use:

wikiscript -a