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git-symbolic-ref - Read and modify symbolic refs
'git symbolic-ref' [-q] [-m <reason>] <name> [<ref>]
Given one argument, reads which branch head the given symbolic
ref refers to and outputs its path, relative to the `.git/`
directory. Typically you would give `HEAD` as the <name>
argument to see which branch your working tree is on.
Given two arguments, creates or updates a symbolic ref <name> to
point at the given branch <ref>.
A symbolic ref is a regular file that stores a string that
begins with `ref: refs/`. For example, your `.git/HEAD` is
a regular file whose contents is `ref: refs/heads/master`.
Do not issue an error message if the <name> is not a
symbolic ref but a detached HEAD; instead exit with
non-zero status silently.
Update the reflog for <name> with <reason>. This is valid only
when creating or updating a symbolic ref.
In the past, `.git/HEAD` was a symbolic link pointing at
`refs/heads/master`. When we wanted to switch to another branch,
we did `ln -sf refs/heads/newbranch .git/HEAD`, and when we wanted
to find out which branch we are on, we did `readlink .git/HEAD`.
This was fine, and internally that is what still happens by
default, but on platforms that do not have working symlinks,
or that do not have the `readlink(1)` command, this was a bit
cumbersome. On some platforms, `ln -sf` does not even work as
advertised (horrors). Therefore symbolic links are now deprecated
and symbolic refs are used by default.
'git symbolic-ref' will exit with status 0 if the contents of the
symbolic ref were printed correctly, with status 1 if the requested
name is not a symbolic ref, or 128 if another error occurs.
Part of the linkgit:git[1] suite