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What is Git?

Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency. Git is easy to learn and has a tiny footprint with lightning fast performance. It outclasses SCM tools like Subversion, CVS, Perforce, and ClearCase with features like cheap local branching, convenient staging areas, and multiple workflows.

What’s New on Git 2.11.1?

Fixes since v2.11

 * The default Travis-CI configuration specifies newer P4 and GitLFS.

 * The character width table has been updated to match Unicode 9.0

 * Update the isatty() emulation for Windows by updating the previous
   hack that depended on internals of (older) MSVC runtime.

 * "git rev-parse --symbolic" failed with a more recent notation like
   "HEAD^-1" and "HEAD^!".

 * An empty directory in a working tree that can simply be nuked used
   to interfere while merging or cherry-picking a change to create a
   submodule directory there, which has been fixed..

 * The code in "git push" to compute if any commit being pushed in the
   superproject binds a commit in a submodule that hasn't been pushed
   out was overly inefficient, making it unusable even for a small
   project that does not have any submodule but have a reasonable
   number of refs.

 * "git push --dry-run --recurse-submodule=on-demand" wasn't
   "--dry-run" in the submodules.

 * The output from "git worktree list" was made in readdir() order,
   and was unstable.

 * mergetool.<tool>.trustExitCode configuration variable did not apply
   to built-in tools, but now it does.

 * "git p4" LFS support was broken when LFS stores an empty blob.

 * Fix a corner case in merge-recursive regression that crept in
   during 2.10 development cycle.

 * Update the error messages from the dumb-http client when it fails
   to obtain loose objects; we used to give sensible error message
   only upon 404 but we now forbid unexpected redirects that needs to
   be reported with something sensible.

 * When diff.renames configuration is on (and with Git 2.9 and later,
   it is enabled by default, which made it worse), "git stash"
   misbehaved if a file is removed and another file with a very
   similar content is added.

 * "git diff --no-index" did not take "--no-abbrev" option.

 * "git difftool --dir-diff" had a minor regression when started from
   a subdirectory, which has been fixed.

 * "git commit --allow-empty --only" (no pathspec) with dirty index
   ought to be an acceptable way to create a new commit that does not
   change any paths, but it was forbidden, perhaps because nobody
   needed it so far.

 * A pathname that begins with "//" or "\\" on Windows is special but
   path normalization logic was unaware of it.

 * "git pull --rebase", when there is no new commits on our side since
   we forked from the upstream, should be able to fast-forward without
   invoking "git rebase", but it didn't.

 * The way to specify hotkeys to "xxdiff" that is used by "git
   mergetool" has been modernized to match recent versions of xxdiff.

 * Unlike "git am --abort", "git cherry-pick --abort" moved HEAD back
   to where cherry-pick started while picking multiple changes, when
   the cherry-pick stopped to ask for help from the user, and the user
   did "git reset --hard" to a different commit in order to re-attempt
   the operation.

 * Code cleanup in shallow boundary computation.

 * A recent update to receive-pack to make it easier to drop garbage
   objects made it clear that GIT_ALTERNATE_OBJECT_DIRECTORIES cannot
   have a pathname with a colon in it (no surprise!), and this in turn
   made it impossible to push into a repository at such a path.  This
   has been fixed by introducing a quoting mechanism used when
   appending such a path to the colon-separated list.

 * The function usage_msg_opt() has been updated to say "fatal:"
   before the custom message programs give, when they want to die
   with a message about wrong command line options followed by the
   standard usage string.

 * "git index-pack --stdin" needs an access to an existing repository,
   but "git index-pack file.pack" to generate an .idx file that
   corresponds to a packfile does not.

 * Fix for NDEBUG builds.

 * A lazy "git push" without refspec did not internally use a fully
   specified refspec to perform 'current', 'simple', or 'upstream'
   push, causing unnecessary "ambiguous ref" errors.

 * "git p4" misbehaved when swapping a directory and a symbolic link.

 * Even though an fix was attempted in Git 2.9.3 days, but running
   "git difftool --dir-diff" from a subdirectory never worked. This
   has been fixed.

 * "git p4" that tracks multile p4 paths imported a single changelist
   that touches files in these multiple paths as one commit, followed
   by many empty commits.  This has been fixed.

 * A potential but unlikely buffer overflow in Windows port has been

 * When the http server gives an incomplete response to a smart-http
   rpc call, it could lead to client waiting for a full response that
   will never come.  Teach the client side to notice this condition
   and abort the transfer.

 * Some platforms no longer understand "latin-1" that is still seen in
   the wild in e-mail headers; replace them with "iso-8859-1" that is
   more widely known when conversion fails from/to it.

 * Update the procedure to generate "tags" for developer support.

 * Update the definition of the MacOSX test environment used by

 * A few git-svn updates.

 * Compression setting for producing packfiles were spread across
   three codepaths, one of which did not honor any configuration.
   Unify these so that all of them honor core.compression and
   pack.compression variables the same way.

 * "git fast-import" sometimes mishandled while rebalancing notes
   tree, which has been fixed.

 * Recent update to the default abbreviation length that auto-scales
   lacked documentation update, which has been corrected.

 * Leakage of lockfiles in the config subsystem has been fixed.

 * It is natural that "git gc --auto" may not attempt to pack
   everything into a single pack, and there is no point in warning
   when the user has configured the system to use the pack bitmap,
   leading to disabling further "gc".

 * "git archive" did not read the standard configuration files, and
   failed to notice a file that is marked as binary via the userdiff
   driver configuration.

 * "git blame --porcelain" misidentified the "previous" <commit, path>
   pair (aka "source") when contents came from two or more files.

 * "git rebase -i" with a recent update started showing an incorrect
   count when squashing more than 10 commits.

 * "git <cmd> @{push}" on a detached HEAD used to segfault; it has
   been corrected to error out with a message.

 * Tighten a test to avoid mistaking an extended ERE regexp engine as
   a PRE regexp engine.

 * Typing ^C to pager, which usually does not kill it, killed Git and
   took the pager down as a collateral damage in certain process-tree
   structure.  This has been fixed.

Also contains various documentation updates and code clean-ups.

Branching and Merging

The Git feature that really makes it stand apart from nearly every other SCM out there is its branching model.

Git allows and encourages you to have multiple local branches that can be entirely independent of each other. The creation, merging, and deletion of those lines of development takes seconds.

This means that you can do things like:

  • Frictionless Context Switching. Create a branch to try out an idea, commit a few times, switch back to where you branched from, apply a patch, switch back to where you are experimenting, and merge it in.
  • Role-Based Codelines. Have a branch that always contains only what goes to production, another that you merge work into for testing, and several smaller ones for day to day work.
  • Feature Based Workflow. Create new branches for each new feature you’re working on so you can seamlessly switch back and forth between them, then delete each branch when that feature gets merged into your main line.
  • Disposable Experimentation. Create a branch to experiment in, realize it’s not going to work, and just delete it – abandoning the work—with nobody else ever seeing it (even if you’ve pushed other branches in the meantime).

Small and Fast

Git is fast. With Git, nearly all operations are performed locally, giving it a huge speed advantage on centralized systems that constantly have to communicate with a server somewhere.

Git was built to work on the Linux kernel, meaning that it has had to effectively handle large repositories from day one. Git is written in C, reducing the overhead of runtimes associated with higher-level languages. Speed and performance has been a primary design goal of the Git from the start.


Let’s see how common operations stack up against Subversion, a common centralized version control system that is similar to CVS or Perforce. Smaller is faster.


One of the nicest features of any Distributed SCM, Git included, is that it’s distributed. This means that instead of doing a “checkout” of the current tip of the source code, you do a “clone” of the entire repository.

Multiple Backups

This means that even if you’re using a centralized workflow, every user essentially has a full backup of the main server. Each of these copies could be pushed up to replace the main server in the event of a crash or corruption. In effect, there is no single point of failure with Git unless there is only a single copy of the repository.

Any Workflow

Because of Git’s distributed nature and superb branching system, an almost endless number of workflows can be implemented with relative ease.

Subversion-Style Workflow

A centralized workflow is very common, especially from people transitioning from a centralized system. Git will not allow you to push if someone has pushed since the last time you fetched, so a centralized model where all developers push to the same server works just fine.

Data Assurance

The data model that Git uses ensures the cryptographic integrity of every bit of your project. Every file and commit is checksummed and retrieved by its checksum when checked back out. It’s impossible to get anything out of Git other than the exact bits you put in.

Staging Area

Unlike the other systems, Git has something called the “staging area” or “index”. This is an intermediate area where commits can be formatted and reviewed before completing the commit.

One thing that sets Git apart from other tools is that it’s possible to quickly stage some of your files and commit them without committing all of the other modified files in your working directory or having to list them on the command line during the commit.

Free and Open Source

Git is released under the GNU General Public License version 2.0, which is an open source license. The Git project chose to use GPLv2 to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software—to make sure the software is free for all its users.

Best Cloud Git 2.11.1 Hosting Recommendation

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