Exit Code 128: Understanding and Troubleshooting Common Errors

When you’re working with software or command-line interfaces, sometimes things don’t go as planned. You run a command, and instead of the result you expect, you’re greeted with ‘exit code 128’. But what does it mean? And more importantly, how do you fix it? Exit code 128 is a generic error code indicating that there’s been a fatal error – but don’t worry, it’s usually something you can resolve with a few steps. In this article, we’ll walk through what an exit code 128 is, why it happens, and how to troubleshoot it.

Step by Step Tutorial: Resolving Exit Code 128

Before diving into the steps to resolve exit code 128, it’s important to understand that this error usually occurs when you’re using version control systems like Git. It can happen when there’s a problem with your environment variables, SSH keys, or repository access rights. Following these steps will help you identify and fix the issue.

Step 1: Check your environment variables

Make sure your environment is set up correctly for the tool you’re using.

Environmental variables are often used to set up the necessary conditions for a program to run correctly. If these are not set correctly, it can cause issues. For example, in Git, you’ll want to ensure that your PATH variable includes the location of your Git executable.

Step 2: Verify your SSH keys

Ensure your SSH keys are properly configured and have access to the repository.

SSH keys are a way to authenticate your identity when accessing a remote server or repository. If your keys aren’t set up or are missing, you won’t be able to connect, which could result in an exit code 128.

Step 3: Check repository access rights

Make sure you have the correct permissions to access the repository you’re trying to use.

Access rights are a common cause of exit code 128. If you don’t have permission to clone, pull, or push to the repository, the operation will fail. Check with the repository owner or administrator to ensure you have the necessary rights.

After completing these steps, you should have resolved the issue causing exit code 128. If the problem persists, it could be a sign of a deeper issue with the repository or your local setup.

Tips for Avoiding Exit Code 128

Here are some pro tips to help you prevent exit code 128 from happening in the first place:

  • Always double-check that your environment variables are correctly set for the tools you’re working with.
  • Regularly update and manage your SSH keys, making sure they are added to the SSH agent and have the proper access rights.
  • Keep an eye on repository access rights and permissions, especially if you’re working on a team.
  • Make sure your version control software is up to date to avoid compatibility issues.
  • Familiarize yourself with common exit codes and their meanings to troubleshoot issues more effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About Exit Code 128

What is an exit code?

An exit code is a number that a program returns when it finishes running. It tells the operating system the status of the program’s execution.

Why is exit code 128 a ‘fatal’ error?

It’s considered ‘fatal’ because it indicates that the program encountered an error that prevented it from completing successfully.

Can exit code 128 be caused by a bug in the software?

Yes, it’s possible. If you’ve checked all the usual issues and the problem persists, it might be a bug.

Is exit code 128 specific to Git?

No, while it’s commonly seen with Git, exit code 128 can occur in other command-line tools and programs.

How do I know if the exit code 128 error is due to SSH key issues?

If the error message mentions something about authentication or access rights, it’s likely related to SSH keys.


  1. Check your environment variables.
  2. Verify your SSH keys.
  3. Check repository access rights.


Exit code 128 can be a puzzling error to encounter, but it’s often a simple fix. By understanding what the error code means and knowing a few technical details about your environment and access rights, you can troubleshoot and resolve the issue with relative ease. Remember, the key is to take a systematic approach: start with your environment variables, move on to your SSH keys, and finally, check your repository permissions. With the steps provided in this guide, you’ll be back on track in no time. However, if you’re still experiencing problems after following these steps, don’t hesitate to seek further assistance. It could be a sign of a more complex issue, or perhaps even a bug in the software you’re using. Either way, remember that exit code 128 is just one of many exit codes, and becoming familiar with them will make you a more effective troubleshooter. Happy coding!