Git for Gnome, Take Two

In my last post, I discussed the basics of using git with a central repository, doing the sorts of things that we do in Gnome. There were some very helpful comments, and I’d like to share some of that information for the benefit of everybody else.


My instructions for creating and working on a local branch went like this:

git branch whizbang-feature master
git checkout whizbang-feature

Behdad pointed out that you can use the -b argument with git checkout to create a branch and check it out, all in one command. So those two commands become

git checkout -b whizbang-feature master

Of course, as with git branch, if you omit the last argument, it defaults to branching from whatever you currently have checked out.


My instructions for getting updates from the server were

git pull origin

Behdad, Marko, and daniel all pointed out that this isn’t optimal. You very likely have changes in your local repository. What you want is to get the remote changes and merge your local changes on top, as if they were developed from the now-current remote repository all along.

git fetch

This fetches the changes from the remote repository and puts them in your local repository. They are not merged in with your local checkout, just the local repository that’s sitting in .git.

It should be pointed out that git pull is basically just a shortcut for git fetch && git merge. But git merge attempts to merge the two development histories (remote updates and local changes) together, rather than just sticking your local changes on the end. So instead of git merge, we’ll call

git rebase origin/master

The git-rebase(1) man page has a nice ASCII diagram to help you visualize what’s happening.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States
This work by Shaun McCance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States.