Topics ▾ Version 1.6.2 ▾ git-bundle last updated in 2.17.0


git-bundle - Move objects and refs by archive


git bundle create <file> <git-rev-list args>
git bundle verify <file>
git bundle list-heads <file> [refname…​]
git bundle unbundle <file> [refname…​]


Some workflows require that one or more branches of development on one machine be replicated on another machine, but the two machines cannot be directly connected so the interactive git protocols (git, ssh, rsync, http) cannot be used. This command provides support for git-fetch and git-pull to operate by packaging objects and references in an archive at the originating machine, then importing those into another repository using git-fetch and git-pull after moving the archive by some means (i.e., by sneakernet). As no direct connection between repositories exists, the user must specify a basis for the bundle that is held by the destination repository: the bundle assumes that all objects in the basis are already in the destination repository.


create <file>

Used to create a bundle named file. This requires the git-rev-list arguments to define the bundle contents.

verify <file>

Used to check that a bundle file is valid and will apply cleanly to the current repository. This includes checks on the bundle format itself as well as checking that the prerequisite commits exist and are fully linked in the current repository. git-bundle prints a list of missing commits, if any, and exits with non-zero status.

list-heads <file>

Lists the references defined in the bundle. If followed by a list of references, only references matching those given are printed out.

unbundle <file>

Passes the objects in the bundle to git-index-pack for storage in the repository, then prints the names of all defined references. If a reflist is given, only references matching those in the given list are printed. This command is really plumbing, intended to be called only by git-fetch.


A list of arguments, acceptable to git-rev-parse and git-rev-list, that specify the specific objects and references to transport. For example, "master~10..master" causes the current master reference to be packaged along with all objects added since its 10th ancestor commit. There is no explicit limit to the number of references and objects that may be packaged.


A list of references used to limit the references reported as available. This is principally of use to git-fetch, which expects to receive only those references asked for and not necessarily everything in the pack (in this case, git-bundle is acting like git-fetch-pack).


git-bundle will only package references that are shown by git-show-ref: this includes heads, tags, and remote heads. References such as master~1 cannot be packaged, but are perfectly suitable for defining the basis. More than one reference may be packaged, and more than one basis can be specified. The objects packaged are those not contained in the union of the given bases. Each basis can be specified explicitly (e.g., ^master~10), or implicitly (e.g., master~10..master, --since=10.days.ago master).

It is very important that the basis used be held by the destination. It is okay to err on the side of conservatism, causing the bundle file to contain objects already in the destination as these are ignored when unpacking at the destination.


Assume you want to transfer the history from a repository R1 on machine A to another repository R2 on machine B. For whatever reason, direct connection between A and B is not allowed, but we can move data from A to B via some mechanism (CD, email, etc). We want to update R2 with developments made on branch master in R1.

To bootstrap the process, you can first create a bundle that doesn’t have any basis. You can use a tag to remember up to what commit you sent out in order to make it easy to later update the other repository with incremental bundle,

machineA$ cd R1
machineA$ git bundle create file.bundle master
machineA$ git tag -f lastR2bundle master

Then you sneakernet file.bundle to the target machine B. Because you don’t have to have any object to extract objects from such a bundle, not only you can fetch/pull from a bundle, you can clone from it as if it was a remote repository.

machineB$ git clone /home/me/tmp/file.bundle R2

This will define a remote called "origin" in the resulting repository that lets you fetch and pull from the bundle. $GIT_DIR/config file in R2 may have an entry like this:

[remote "origin"]
    url = /home/me/tmp/file.bundle
    fetch = refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*

You can fetch/pull to update the resulting mine.git repository after replacing the bundle you store at /home/me/tmp/file.bundle with incremental updates from here on.

After working more in the original repository, you can create an incremental bundle to update the other:

machineA$ cd R1
machineA$ git bundle create file.bundle lastR2bundle..master
machineA$ git tag -f lastR2bundle master

and sneakernet it to the other machine to replace /home/me/tmp/file.bundle, and pull from it.

machineB$ cd R2
machineB$ git pull

If you know up to what commit the intended recipient repository should have the necessary objects for, you can use that knowledge to specify the basis, giving a cut-off point to limit the revisions and objects that go in the resulting bundle. The previous example used lastR2bundle tag for this purpose, but you can use other options you would give to the git-log[1] command. Here are more examples:

You can use a tag that is present in both.

$ git bundle create mybundle v1.0.0..master

You can use a basis based on time.

$ git bundle create mybundle --since=10.days master

Or you can use the number of commits.

$ git bundle create mybundle -10 master

You can run git-bundle verify to see if you can extract from a bundle that was created with a basis.

$ git bundle verify mybundle

This will list what commits you must have in order to extract from the bundle and will error out if you don’t have them.

A bundle from a recipient repository’s point of view is just like a regular repository it fetches/pulls from. You can for example map refs, like this example, when fetching:

$ git fetch mybundle master:localRef

Or see what refs it offers.

$ git ls-remote mybundle


Written by Mark Levedahl <>


Part of the git[1] suite