Stopping and Saving

If you know you’re not going to be actively working on your project, it’s good manners to save your work and stop the interactive environment, so that you can release the resources you were consuming. You can do this from the Environments tab on the RenkuLab UI.

Sometimes an environment will get stuck pending launch (e.g. because you requested GPUs and they are not yet available). In this case you can view the status and logs to see if there’s a useful message. In the case of pending GPUs, you can safely wait for the resources to become available. However in other cases, more commonly when you are trying to customize your environment, you might notice an issue via the logs, and want to stop the launch so that you can fix the problem and try again. However, for these stuck notebooks it is not yet possible. You can reach out to us on discourse in this case.

Saving your work

Interactive environments are kept running as long as they in use. In the default RenkuLab configuration, idle environments are stopped after 24 hours of inactivity. Furthermore, interactive environments can crash, for example if you run a process that eats more memory than you’ve allocated. Thus, it’s best to save often.

There are two ways to save your work back to RenkuLab from an interactive environment (both available in JupyterLab and RStudio), and behind the scenes both are using git staging (add), commit, and push. You can type these commands directly into the available terminal interface of your interactive environment, or click some buttons via the git plugins.

When you push your changes back to RenkuLab, the GitLab CI/CD is triggered to build a new image out of the Dockerfile, which will be available the next time you start a new environment.

Saving via Terminal

In the Terminal interface inside the interactive environment, call the following three git commands to stage, commit, and push your changes:

  1. git add *
  2. git commit -m "my short but descriptive message of the changes I made"
  3. git push

If you are new to git, these resources might be useful:

Saving via Git Plugin

Find the git plugin interface (Jupyterlab: branched-dots icon on lefthand vertical menu; RStudio: top right box). Add the changed files you want to save to staging, write a message to commit the changes, and don’t forget to hit the icon or button to push those changes.

Autosave in interactive environments

When you stop an interactive environment, an automatic check looks for any work that has not been pushed to the remote repository, including untracked and modified files. If something is found, a new “autosave” branch is created and pushed to GitLab.


You cannot start a notebook server from these branches but you can still see them listed in GitLab. You can easily identify them because their name starts with renku/autosave/

Restore unsaved work

The next time you start a new interactive environment from the same branch/commit combination, you will be notified and the autosaved data will be automatically loaded in your session. Please note that nothing will be pushed automatically to the master branch, therefore you won’t see any changes in your project’s files in Renku, nor will the provenance be updated.

Local branches you created but never pushed to the origin will not be saved.

Discard autosaved content

If you don’t need the autosaved content, you can easily discard it using the following commands:

$ git reset --hard origin/<branch-name> # remove commits and modified files
$ git clean -f -d # remove untracked files

If you are working on the master branch, the command looks like this:

$ git reset --hard origin/master && git clean -f -d

Push changes regularly

The autosave feature is intended to prevent loss of work, but it is not a replacement for git. By making commits in git, you track your changes, and pushing back to RenkuLab ensures that they are visible to others. And although we are always working to improve robustness, in some situations, autosave can fail. So the most secure way to keep your work is to commit and push to origin.