Git Rev News: Edition 86 (April 30th, 2022)

Welcome to the 86th edition of Git Rev News, a digest of all things Git. For our goals, the archives, the way we work, and how to contribute or to subscribe, see the Git Rev News page on

This edition covers what happened during the month of March 2022.



  • [PATCH 0/5] Separate --skip-refresh from --quiet in reset, use --quiet internally in stash

    Victoria Dye sent a 5 patch long series to improve the following:

    • the way the --quiet command line options work in git reset,
    • the way index refreshing is handled in git reset, and
    • the way the --quiet and --index command line option work in git stash.

    She had discovered issues with these features when she was working on tests for the git stash sparse index integration. (See Victoria’s interview in last month’s Git Rev News Edition #85 for information on Victoria’s current work.) She found that --quiet in git stash does not suppress all non-error output when used with --index, and that this comes from reset_head() being called without the internal flag corresponding to --quiet.

    When calling reset_head() with the flag set though, the index is not refreshed, while git stash needs the index to be refreshed. The underlying issue was that the internal flags related to --quiet and refreshing the index were not independent.

    So the first goal with her patch series was to decouple these behaviors, and the second goal was to allow git stash to internally use reset_head() with the internal flag corresponding to --quiet and to still refresh the index.

    To decouple the behaviors one of her patches introduced the --[no-]refresh option and the corresponding reset.refresh config setting to git reset. Derrick Stolee, who prefers to be called just Stolee, reviewed the patch series and agreed that the changes in that patch were “well motivated”, and otherwise he found that the “code looks great”, and he mostly suggested improvements to the tests.

    Junio Hamano, the Git maintainer, also agreed that it was a good idea to separate refreshing from --quiet.

    Victoria then sent a version 2 of her patch series, with improvements to the tests, some commit messages and the cover letter title.

    Junio then reviewed the patch series and mostly suggested further improvements to the tests saying that otherwise “everything looked good”, while Stolee was happy with the series as it took into account all his previous suggestions.

    Victoria then sent a version 3 of her patch series that added a few more tests and improved some others.

    Junio and Victoria then discussed the tests a bit more, and Junio agreed with Victoria’s approach.

    Phillip Wood though chimed in a few days later saying that the approach taken by the patch series, which consisted in still not refreshing the index by default when --quiet was given, was maybe not the best. He considered that it was a “hack” that had been introduced for performance reasons before the sparse index feature was introduced, and that we should take the opportunity to get rid of it and go back to the original behavior of refreshing the index when --quiet was given.

    Junio agreed with Phillip saying that “he would very much prefer to see --quiet not making a contribution to the decision to refresh or not in the longer term”. He suggested introducing --no-refresh to git reset and said he thought reset.refresh wasn’t a good idea as it could lead to issues for people using git reset in scripts.

    Victoria replied that she agreed with them but wanted to preserve as much backward compatibility as possible. She said she would gladly make the change if backwards-compatibility wasn’t an issue. She also asked if reset.quiet should be kept as it could also harm people using git reset in scripts.

    As her patch series had already been merged into the next branch, she would send a new series on top deprecating reset.refresh and reset.quiet, and making refreshing the default for all modes of git reset.

    Later she indeed sent the first version of a 4 patch long series removing all instances of skipping index refresh in git reset except for --no-refresh itself, and removing both reset.refresh and reset.quiet.

    Phillip reviewed her new patch series suggesting to allow both --no-refresh and --refresh as one patch of the series removed the latter. He said that --refresh could be used to countermand a previous --no-refresh typically when using an alias that includes --no-refresh. He also discussed possible improvements to the documentation of --refresh and to commit messages.

    Victoria then sent a version 2 of this new patch series taking into account Phillip’s suggestions.

    Junio liked the changes and agreed to merge the series. Later though, Phillip suggested that the short help sentence given by git reset -h should be about --no-refresh instead of --refresh as this was “the form that users will want most of the time”.

    Junio agreed with Phillip’s suggestion. He had already merged the series to next though, so he proposed another patch on top implementing Phillip’s suggestion. Victoria tested the patch and agreed with it. Junio replied he would merge it then.

    All these patches were indeed merged into the master branch before the recent release of the latest Git 2.36.0, so that in this new Git version git reset and git stash handle some of their options in a much better way.


Other News


April Fool’s

Light reading

Git tools and sites

  • Building Software Together is a free online book by Greg Wilson which aims to teach you how to be a compassionate programmer; it includes two chapters about Git:
  • Version Control with Git is a tutorial by the Software Carpentry Foundation.
  • git-backup is a command-line tool to pull all your GitHub and GitLab repositories for backup purposes; it doesn’t require Git.
  • gitquickbranch.c by Dianne Skoll is a small program in C to quickly find the current branch name.
  • delta is a syntax-highlighting pager for git, diff, and grep output.
    • It is one of the tools on Modern Unix tools list, which is a collection of modern/faster/saner alternatives to common unix commands.
  • Difftastic is an experimental diff tool that compares files based on their syntax. The manual includes list of some other tree diffing tools available.
  • Vershd is an Electron-based multi-platform Git GUI, with separate views of branches and their commits, pending files and stashes, and the ability to show in advance what’s going to happen when actions are taken. Free for, among others, personal use and educational institutions. If only it’s marketing was less FUD-ish (“Git […] can easily destroy days of work in just seconds and requires thousands of keyboard commands and parameters”)
  • Git for Professionals – Free Version Control Course: freeCodeCamp intro by Tobias Günther with follow-on more ‘Advanced Git Tutorial’ sessions, all on YouTube. Plenty of useful tidbits.


This edition of Git Rev News was curated by Christian Couder <>, Jakub Narębski <>, Markus Jansen <> and Kaartic Sivaraam <> with help from Bruno Brito, Brandon Pugh, Carlo Marcelo Arenas Belón and Philip Oakley.