Getting started


Datalad is a Python package and can be installed via pip, which is the preferred method unless system packages are available for the target platform (see below):

pip install datalad

This will automatically install all software dependencies necessary to provide core functionality. Several additional installation schemes are supported (e.g., publish, metadata, tests, crawl):

pip install datalad[SCHEME]

where SCHEME can be any supported scheme, such as the ones listed above.

In addition, it is necessary to have a working installation of git-annex, which is not set up automatically at this point.

(Neuro)Debian, Ubuntu, and similar systems

For Debian-based operating systems the most convenient installation method is to enable the NeuroDebian repository, and to install datalad as a system package:

sudo apt-get install datalad


A simple way to get things installed is the homebrew package manager, which in itself is fairly easy to install. Git-annex is installed by the command:

brew install git-annex

Once Git-annex is available, datalad can be installed via pip as described above. pip comes with Python distributions like anaconda.

First steps

After datalad is installed it can be queried for information about known datasets. For example, we might want to look for dataset thats were funded by, or acknowledge the US National Science Foundation (NSF):

~ % datalad search NSF
No DataLad dataset found at current location
Would you like to install the DataLad superdataset at '~/datalad'? (choices: yes, no): yes
2016-10-24 09:13:32,414 [INFO   ] Installing dataset at ~/datalad from
From now on you can refer to this dataset using the label '///'
2016-10-24 09:13:39,072 [INFO   ] Performing search using DataLad superdataset '~/datalad'
2016-10-24 09:13:39,086 [INFO   ] Loading and caching local meta-data... might take a few seconds

On first attempt, datalad offers assistence to obtain a superdataset with information on all datasets it knows about. This is a lightweight container that does not actually contain data, but meta information only. Once downloaded queries can be made offline.

Any known dataset can now be installed inside the local superdataset with a command like this:

datalad install ~/datalad/openfmri/ds000002