Honza Pokorný

A personal blog

How I use git

Recently, I have noticed that there are quite a few wrappers around git to give you a nicer interface to work with. The new commands promise to be easy to remember and make your life less frustrating. I find these a little silly because git on its own is a great tool. Here I’m going to describe how I use git to convince you (and myself) that it’s not that hard.


This couldn’t be any simpler:

git clone git://github.com/honza/dotfiles.git


Once I have cloned a repo, I start to make changes. To see what files I have changed, I run

git status

Or to see what actual changes I made

git diff

Then, when I’m ready to commit, I stage the files. The index is one of my favorite features of git. It lets me decide what changes I want to commit. Maybe I correct something as I work on something else. Those things aren’t related so they shouldn’t go into the same commit. I grew up on Mercurial and not having the index in Mercurial now really bothers me.

To stage all changed files, I do

git add -u

If I decide that the changes I made are stupid and I want to get rid of them, I do

git checkout .

To make sure all staged changes are the right ones

git diff --cached


I often stash my code. Sometimes you need to look at some code in a different branch, sometimes I notice something is broken and I want to see if I broke it or not.

git stash

will stash your changes. To get it back I do

git stash pop

And also, often I will see what I had stashed

git stash list


Creating new branches is simple and cheap

git checkout -b new_branch

Delete a branch

git branch -d branch_name

Or delete a branch on a remote server

git push origin :branch_name


I have written on rebasing before. It makes your history much nicer. Any time I pull code from a remote repository, I do

git pull --rebase

Or, if it’s a specific branch

git pull --rebase origin dev


I love the bisect commnad in git. You can use it to determine which commit introduced a bug. This is especially useful if you have a comprehensive test suite. For example, the latest commit is broken and you remember that all tests where passing in version 1.2. This example uses Django.

git bisect start HEAD v1.2 --      # HEAD is bad, v1.2 is good
git bisect run python manage.py test

Git will then keep running your tests until it finds the first commit that’s broken.


When a feature branch is finished, I merge it into master with

git checkout master
git merge --no-ff feature

Viewing history

For viewing history, I really like the following command

git log --pretty=format:"%h - %an, %ar : %s"'

This gives you the commit SHA, then the author’s name, how long ago it was made and a brief, one-line summary of the changes. I have it aliased as gitl. I also use a simple graph to see the relationships between branches

git log --oneline --graph

Upgrading all submodules in a project

This one is great, too. I use it to upgrade all of my vim plugins.

git submodule foreach git pull

Pulling and pushing

This is pretty straight forward

git pull
git pull origin dev

git push
git push origin dev


Once you learn what git calls what, it’s pretty easy to just google the thing you’re trying to do. I’m definitely not an expert but this gets me by.

This article was first published on May 11, 2012. As you can see, there are no comments. I invite you to email me with your comments, criticisms, and other suggestions. Even better, write your own article as a response. Blogging is awesome.