Git --distributed-is-the-new-centralized
Topics ▾ Version 2.0.1 ▾ git last updated in 2.0.2


git - the stupid content tracker


'git' [--version] [--help] [-C <path>] [-c <name>=<value>]
    [--exec-path[=<path>]] [--html-path] [--man-path] [--info-path]
    [-p|--paginate|--no-pager] [--no-replace-objects] [--bare]
    [--git-dir=<path>] [--work-tree=<path>] [--namespace=<name>]
    <command> [<args>]


Git is a fast, scalable, distributed revision control system with an unusually rich command set that provides both high-level operations and full access to internals.

See linkgit:gittutorial[7] to get started, then see Everyday Git for a useful minimum set of commands. The Git User’s Manual has a more in-depth introduction.

After you mastered the basic concepts, you can come back to this page to learn what commands Git offers. You can learn more about individual Git commands with "git help command". linkgit:gitcli[7] manual page gives you an overview of the command line command syntax.

Formatted and hyperlinked version of the latest Git documentation can be viewed at



Prints the Git suite version that the git program came from.


Prints the synopsis and a list of the most commonly used commands. If the option --all or -a is given then all available commands are printed. If a Git command is named this option will bring up the manual page for that command.

Other options are available to control how the manual page is displayed. See linkgit:git-help[1] for more information, because git --help ... is converted internally into git help ....

-C <path>

Run as if git was started in <path> instead of the current working directory. When multiple -C options are given, each subsequent non-absolute -C <path> is interpreted relative to the preceding -C <path>.

This option affects options that expect path name like --git-dir and --work-tree in that their interpretations of the path names would be made relative to the working directory caused by the -C option. For example the following invocations are equivalent:

git --git-dir=a.git --work-tree=b -C c status
git --git-dir=c/a.git --work-tree=c/b status
-c <name>=<value>

Pass a configuration parameter to the command. The value given will override values from configuration files. The <name> is expected in the same format as listed by git config (subkeys separated by dots).


Path to wherever your core Git programs are installed. This can also be controlled by setting the GIT_EXEC_PATH environment variable. If no path is given, git will print the current setting and then exit.


Print the path, without trailing slash, where Git’s HTML documentation is installed and exit.


Print the manpath (see man(1)) for the man pages for this version of Git and exit.


Print the path where the Info files documenting this version of Git are installed and exit.


Pipe all output into less (or if set, $PAGER) if standard output is a terminal. This overrides the pager.<cmd> configuration options (see the "Configuration Mechanism" section below).


Do not pipe Git output into a pager.


Set the path to the repository. This can also be controlled by setting the GIT_DIR environment variable. It can be an absolute path or relative path to current working directory.


Set the path to the working tree. It can be an absolute path or a path relative to the current working directory. This can also be controlled by setting the GIT_WORK_TREE environment variable and the core.worktree configuration variable (see core.worktree in linkgit:git-config[1] for a more detailed discussion).


Set the Git namespace. See linkgit:gitnamespaces[7] for more details. Equivalent to setting the GIT_NAMESPACE environment variable.


Treat the repository as a bare repository. If GIT_DIR environment is not set, it is set to the current working directory.


Do not use replacement refs to replace Git objects. See linkgit:git-replace[1] for more information.


Treat pathspecs literally (i.e. no globbing, no pathspec magic). This is equivalent to setting the GIT_LITERAL_PATHSPECS environment variable to 1.


Add "glob" magic to all pathspec. This is equivalent to setting the GIT_GLOB_PATHSPECS environment variable to 1. Disabling globbing on individual pathspecs can be done using pathspec magic ":(literal)"


Add "literal" magic to all pathspec. This is equivalent to setting the GIT_NOGLOB_PATHSPECS environment variable to 1. Enabling globbing on individual pathspecs can be done using pathspec magic ":(glob)"


Add "icase" magic to all pathspec. This is equivalent to setting the GIT_ICASE_PATHSPECS environment variable to 1.


We divide Git into high level ("porcelain") commands and low level ("plumbing") commands.

High-level commands (porcelain)

We separate the porcelain commands into the main commands and some ancillary user utilities.

Main porcelain commands

Ancillary Commands



Interacting with Others

These commands are to interact with foreign SCM and with other people via patch over e-mail.

Low-level commands (plumbing)

Although Git includes its own porcelain layer, its low-level commands are sufficient to support development of alternative porcelains. Developers of such porcelains might start by reading about linkgit:git-update-index[1] and linkgit:git-read-tree[1].

The interface (input, output, set of options and the semantics) to these low-level commands are meant to be a lot more stable than Porcelain level commands, because these commands are primarily for scripted use. The interface to Porcelain commands on the other hand are subject to change in order to improve the end user experience.

The following description divides the low-level commands into commands that manipulate objects (in the repository, index, and working tree), commands that interrogate and compare objects, and commands that move objects and references between repositories.

Manipulation commands

Interrogation commands

In general, the interrogate commands do not touch the files in the working tree.

Synching repositories

The following are helper commands used by the above; end users typically do not use them directly.

Internal helper commands

These are internal helper commands used by other commands; end users typically do not use them directly.

Configuration Mechanism

Git uses a simple text format to store customizations that are per repository and are per user. Such a configuration file may look like this:

# A '#' or ';' character indicates a comment.

; core variables
	; Don't trust file modes
	filemode = false

; user identity
	name = "Junio C Hamano"
	email = ""

Various commands read from the configuration file and adjust their operation accordingly. See linkgit:git-config[1] for a list and more details about the configuration mechanism.

Identifier Terminology


Indicates the object name for any type of object.


Indicates a blob object name.


Indicates a tree object name.


Indicates a commit object name.


Indicates a tree, commit or tag object name. A command that takes a <tree-ish> argument ultimately wants to operate on a <tree> object but automatically dereferences <commit> and <tag> objects that point at a <tree>.


Indicates a commit or tag object name. A command that takes a <commit-ish> argument ultimately wants to operate on a <commit> object but automatically dereferences <tag> objects that point at a <commit>.


Indicates that an object type is required. Currently one of: blob, tree, commit, or tag.


Indicates a filename - almost always relative to the root of the tree structure GIT_INDEX_FILE describes.

Symbolic Identifiers

Any Git command accepting any <object> can also use the following symbolic notation:


indicates the head of the current branch.


a valid tag name (i.e. a refs/tags/<tag> reference).


a valid head name (i.e. a refs/heads/<head> reference).

For a more complete list of ways to spell object names, see "SPECIFYING REVISIONS" section in linkgit:gitrevisions[7].

File/Directory Structure

Please see the linkgit:gitrepository-layout[5] document.

Read linkgit:githooks[5] for more details about each hook.

Higher level SCMs may provide and manage additional information in the $GIT_DIR.


Please see linkgit:gitglossary[7].

Environment Variables

Various Git commands use the following environment variables:

The Git Repository

These environment variables apply to all core Git commands. Nb: it is worth noting that they may be used/overridden by SCMS sitting above Git so take care if using Cogito etc.


This environment allows the specification of an alternate index file. If not specified, the default of $GIT_DIR/index is used.


This environment variable allows the specification of an index version for new repositories. It won’t affect existing index files. By default index file version [23] is used.


If the object storage directory is specified via this environment variable then the sha1 directories are created underneath - otherwise the default $GIT_DIR/objects directory is used.


Due to the immutable nature of Git objects, old objects can be archived into shared, read-only directories. This variable specifies a ":" separated (on Windows ";" separated) list of Git object directories which can be used to search for Git objects. New objects will not be written to these directories.


If the GIT_DIR environment variable is set then it specifies a path to use instead of the default .git for the base of the repository. The --git-dir command-line option also sets this value.


Set the path to the root of the working tree. This can also be controlled by the --work-tree command line option and the core.worktree configuration variable.


Set the Git namespace; see linkgit:gitnamespaces[7] for details. The --namespace command-line option also sets this value.


This should be a colon-separated list of absolute paths. If set, it is a list of directories that Git should not chdir up into while looking for a repository directory (useful for excluding slow-loading network directories). It will not exclude the current working directory or a GIT_DIR set on the command line or in the environment. Normally, Git has to read the entries in this list and resolve any symlink that might be present in order to compare them with the current directory. However, if even this access is slow, you can add an empty entry to the list to tell Git that the subsequent entries are not symlinks and needn’t be resolved; e.g., GIT_CEILING_DIRECTORIES=/maybe/symlink::/very/slow/non/symlink.


When run in a directory that does not have ".git" repository directory, Git tries to find such a directory in the parent directories to find the top of the working tree, but by default it does not cross filesystem boundaries. This environment variable can be set to true to tell Git not to stop at filesystem boundaries. Like GIT_CEILING_DIRECTORIES, this will not affect an explicit repository directory set via GIT_DIR or on the command line.

Git Commits


see linkgit:git-commit-tree[1]

Git Diffs


Only valid setting is "--unified=??" or "-u??" to set the number of context lines shown when a unified diff is created. This takes precedence over any "-U" or "--unified" option value passed on the Git diff command line.


When the environment variable GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF is set, the program named by it is called, instead of the diff invocation described above. For a path that is added, removed, or modified, GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF is called with 7 parameters:

path old-file old-hex old-mode new-file new-hex new-mode



are files GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF can use to read the contents of <old|new>,


are the 40-hexdigit SHA-1 hashes,


are the octal representation of the file modes.

The file parameters can point at the user’s working file (e.g. new-file in "git-diff-files"), /dev/null (e.g. old-file when a new file is added), or a temporary file (e.g. old-file in the index). GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF should not worry about unlinking the temporary file --- it is removed when GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF exits.

For a path that is unmerged, GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF is called with 1 parameter, <path>.

For each path GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF is called, two environment variables, GIT_DIFF_PATH_COUNTER and GIT_DIFF_PATH_TOTAL are set.


A 1-based counter incremented by one for every path.


The total number of paths.



A number controlling the amount of output shown by the recursive merge strategy. Overrides merge.verbosity. See linkgit:git-merge[1]


This environment variable overrides $PAGER. If it is set to an empty string or to the value "cat", Git will not launch a pager. See also the core.pager option in linkgit:git-config[1].


This environment variable overrides $EDITOR and $VISUAL. It is used by several Git commands when, on interactive mode, an editor is to be launched. See also linkgit:git-var[1] and the core.editor option in linkgit:git-config[1].


If this environment variable is set then git fetch and git push will use this command instead of ssh when they need to connect to a remote system. The $GIT_SSH command will be given exactly two or four arguments: the username@host (or just host) from the URL and the shell command to execute on that remote system, optionally preceded by -p (literally) and the port from the URL when it specifies something other than the default SSH port.

To pass options to the program that you want to list in GIT_SSH you will need to wrap the program and options into a shell script, then set GIT_SSH to refer to the shell script.

Usually it is easier to configure any desired options through your personal .ssh/config file. Please consult your ssh documentation for further details.


If this environment variable is set, then Git commands which need to acquire passwords or passphrases (e.g. for HTTP or IMAP authentication) will call this program with a suitable prompt as command line argument and read the password from its STDOUT. See also the core.askpass option in linkgit:git-config[1].


Whether to skip reading settings from the system-wide $(prefix)/etc/gitconfig file. This environment variable can be used along with $HOME and $XDG_CONFIG_HOME to create a predictable environment for a picky script, or you can set it temporarily to avoid using a buggy /etc/gitconfig file while waiting for someone with sufficient permissions to fix it.


If this environment variable is set to "1", then commands such as git blame (in incremental mode), git rev-list, git log, git check-attr and git check-ignore will force a flush of the output stream after each record have been flushed. If this variable is set to "0", the output of these commands will be done using completely buffered I/O. If this environment variable is not set, Git will choose buffered or record-oriented flushing based on whether stdout appears to be redirected to a file or not.


If this variable is set to "1", "2" or "true" (comparison is case insensitive), Git will print trace: messages on stderr telling about alias expansion, built-in command execution and external command execution. If this variable is set to an integer value greater than 1 and lower than 10 (strictly) then Git will interpret this value as an open file descriptor and will try to write the trace messages into this file descriptor. Alternatively, if this variable is set to an absolute path (starting with a / character), Git will interpret this as a file path and will try to write the trace messages into it.


If this variable is set to a path, a file will be created at the given path logging all accesses to any packs. For each access, the pack file name and an offset in the pack is recorded. This may be helpful for troubleshooting some pack-related performance problems.


If this variable is set, it shows a trace of all packets coming in or out of a given program. This can help with debugging object negotiation or other protocol issues. Tracing is turned off at a packet starting with "PACK".


Setting this variable to 1 will cause Git to treat all pathspecs literally, rather than as glob patterns. For example, running GIT_LITERAL_PATHSPECS=1 git log -- '*.c' will search for commits that touch the path *.c, not any paths that the glob *.c matches. You might want this if you are feeding literal paths to Git (e.g., paths previously given to you by git ls-tree, --raw diff output, etc).


Setting this variable to 1 will cause Git to treat all pathspecs as glob patterns (aka "glob" magic).


Setting this variable to 1 will cause Git to treat all pathspecs as literal (aka "literal" magic).


Setting this variable to 1 will cause Git to treat all pathspecs as case-insensitive.


When a ref is updated, reflog entries are created to keep track of the reason why the ref was updated (which is typically the name of the high-level command that updated the ref), in addition to the old and new values of the ref. A scripted Porcelain command can use set_reflog_action helper function in git-sh-setup to set its name to this variable when it is invoked as the top level command by the end user, to be recorded in the body of the reflog.


More detail on the following is available from the Git concepts chapter of the user-manual and linkgit:gitcore-tutorial[7].

A Git project normally consists of a working directory with a ".git" subdirectory at the top level. The .git directory contains, among other things, a compressed object database representing the complete history of the project, an "index" file which links that history to the current contents of the working tree, and named pointers into that history such as tags and branch heads.

The object database contains objects of three main types: blobs, which hold file data; trees, which point to blobs and other trees to build up directory hierarchies; and commits, which each reference a single tree and some number of parent commits.

The commit, equivalent to what other systems call a "changeset" or "version", represents a step in the project’s history, and each parent represents an immediately preceding step. Commits with more than one parent represent merges of independent lines of development.

All objects are named by the SHA-1 hash of their contents, normally written as a string of 40 hex digits. Such names are globally unique. The entire history leading up to a commit can be vouched for by signing just that commit. A fourth object type, the tag, is provided for this purpose.

When first created, objects are stored in individual files, but for efficiency may later be compressed together into "pack files".

Named pointers called refs mark interesting points in history. A ref may contain the SHA-1 name of an object or the name of another ref. Refs with names beginning ref/head/ contain the SHA-1 name of the most recent commit (or "head") of a branch under development. SHA-1 names of tags of interest are stored under ref/tags/. A special ref named HEAD contains the name of the currently checked-out branch.

The index file is initialized with a list of all paths and, for each path, a blob object and a set of attributes. The blob object represents the contents of the file as of the head of the current branch. The attributes (last modified time, size, etc.) are taken from the corresponding file in the working tree. Subsequent changes to the working tree can be found by comparing these attributes. The index may be updated with new content, and new commits may be created from the content stored in the index.

The index is also capable of storing multiple entries (called "stages") for a given pathname. These stages are used to hold the various unmerged version of a file when a merge is in progress.


See the references in the "description" section to get started using Git. The following is probably more detail than necessary for a first-time user.

The Git concepts chapter of the user-manual and linkgit:gitcore-tutorial[7] both provide introductions to the underlying Git architecture.

See linkgit:gitworkflows[7] for an overview of recommended workflows.

See also the howto documents for some useful examples.

The internals are documented in the Git API documentation.

Users migrating from CVS may also want to read linkgit:gitcvs-migration[7].


Git was started by Linus Torvalds, and is currently maintained by Junio C Hamano. Numerous contributions have come from the Git mailing list <>. gives you a more complete list of contributors.

If you have a clone of git.git itself, the output of linkgit:git-shortlog[1] and linkgit:git-blame[1] can show you the authors for specific parts of the project.

Reporting Bugs

Report bugs to the Git mailing list <> where the development and maintenance is primarily done. You do not have to be subscribed to the list to send a message there.


linkgit:gittutorial[7], linkgit:gittutorial-2[7], Everyday Git, linkgit:gitcvs-migration[7], linkgit:gitglossary[7], linkgit:gitcore-tutorial[7], linkgit:gitcli[7], The Git User’s Manual, linkgit:gitworkflows[7]


Part of the linkgit:git[1] suite