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git-read-tree - Reads tree information into the index
'git-read-tree' (<tree-ish> | [[-m [--aggressive] | --reset | --prefix=<prefix>] [-u | -i]] <tree-ish1> [<tree-ish2> [<tree-ish3>]])
Reads the tree information given by <tree-ish> into the index,
but does not actually *update* any of the files it "caches". (see:
Optionally, it can merge a tree into the index, perform a
fast-forward (i.e. 2-way) merge, or a 3-way merge, with the `-m`
flag. When used with `-m`, the `-u` flag causes it to also update
the files in the work tree with the result of the merge.
Trivial merges are done by `git-read-tree` itself. Only conflicting paths
will be in unmerged state when `git-read-tree` returns.
Perform a merge, not just a read. The command will
refuse to run if your index file has unmerged entries,
indicating that you have not finished previous merge you
Same as -m, except that unmerged entries are discarded
instead of failing.
After a successful merge, update the files in the work
tree with the result of the merge.
Usually a merge requires the index file as well as the
files in the working tree are up to date with the
current head commit, in order not to lose local
changes. This flag disables the check with the working
tree and is meant to be used when creating a merge of
trees that are not directly related to the current
working tree status into a temporary index file.
Usually a three-way merge by `git-read-tree` resolves
the merge for really trivial cases and leaves other
cases unresolved in the index, so that Porcelains can
implement different merge policies. This flag makes the
command to resolve a few more cases internally:
* when one side removes a path and the other side leaves the path
unmodified. The resolution is to remove that path.
* when both sides remove a path. The resolution is to remove that path.
* when both sides adds a path identically. The resolution
is to add that path.
Keep the current index contents, and read the contents
of named tree-ish under directory at `<prefix>`. The
original index file cannot have anything at the path
`<prefix>` itself, and have nothing in `<prefix>/`
directory. Note that the `<prefix>/` value must end
with a slash.
The id of the tree object(s) to be read/merged.
If `-m` is specified, `git-read-tree` can perform 3 kinds of
merge, a single tree merge if only 1 tree is given, a
fast-forward merge with 2 trees, or a 3-way merge if 3 trees are
Single Tree Merge
If only 1 tree is specified, git-read-tree operates as if the user did not
specify `-m`, except that if the original index has an entry for a
given pathname, and the contents of the path matches with the tree
being read, the stat info from the index is used. (In other words, the
index's stat()s take precedence over the merged tree's).
That means that if you do a `git-read-tree -m <newtree>` followed by a
`git-checkout-index -f -u -a`, the `git-checkout-index` only checks out
the stuff that really changed.
This is used to avoid unnecessary false hits when `git-diff-files` is
run after `git-read-tree`.
Two Tree Merge
Typically, this is invoked as `git-read-tree -m $H $M`, where $H
is the head commit of the current repository, and $M is the head
of a foreign tree, which is simply ahead of $H (i.e. we are in a
fast forward situation).
When two trees are specified, the user is telling git-read-tree
the following:
1. The current index and work tree is derived from $H, but
the user may have local changes in them since $H;
2. The user wants to fast-forward to $M.
In this case, the `git-read-tree -m $H $M` command makes sure
that no local change is lost as the result of this "merge".
Here are the "carry forward" rules:
I (index) H M Result
0 nothing nothing nothing (does not happen)
1 nothing nothing exists use M
2 nothing exists nothing remove path from index
3 nothing exists exists use M
clean I==H I==M
4 yes N/A N/A nothing nothing keep index
5 no N/A N/A nothing nothing keep index
6 yes N/A yes nothing exists keep index
7 no N/A yes nothing exists keep index
8 yes N/A no nothing exists fail
9 no N/A no nothing exists fail
10 yes yes N/A exists nothing remove path from index
11 no yes N/A exists nothing fail
12 yes no N/A exists nothing fail
13 no no N/A exists nothing fail
clean (H=M)
14 yes exists exists keep index
15 no exists exists keep index
clean I==H I==M (H!=M)
16 yes no no exists exists fail
17 no no no exists exists fail
18 yes no yes exists exists keep index
19 no no yes exists exists keep index
20 yes yes no exists exists use M
21 no yes no exists exists fail
In all "keep index" cases, the index entry stays as in the
original index file. If the entry were not up to date,
git-read-tree keeps the copy in the work tree intact when
operating under the -u flag.
When this form of git-read-tree returns successfully, you can
see what "local changes" you made are carried forward by running
`git-diff-index --cached $M`. Note that this does not
necessarily match `git-diff-index --cached $H` would have
produced before such a two tree merge. This is because of cases
18 and 19 --- if you already had the changes in $M (e.g. maybe
you picked it up via e-mail in a patch form), `git-diff-index
--cached $H` would have told you about the change before this
merge, but it would not show in `git-diff-index --cached $M`
output after two-tree merge.
3-Way Merge
Each "index" entry has two bits worth of "stage" state. stage 0 is the
normal one, and is the only one you'd see in any kind of normal use.
However, when you do `git-read-tree` with three trees, the "stage"
starts out at 1.
This means that you can do
$ git-read-tree -m <tree1> <tree2> <tree3>
and you will end up with an index with all of the <tree1> entries in
"stage1", all of the <tree2> entries in "stage2" and all of the
<tree3> entries in "stage3". When performing a merge of another
branch into the current branch, we use the common ancestor tree
as <tree1>, the current branch head as <tree2>, and the other
branch head as <tree3>.
Furthermore, `git-read-tree` has special-case logic that says: if you see
a file that matches in all respects in the following states, it
"collapses" back to "stage0":
- stage 2 and 3 are the same; take one or the other (it makes no
difference - the same work has been done on our branch in
stage 2 and their branch in stage 3)
- stage 1 and stage 2 are the same and stage 3 is different; take
stage 3 (our branch in stage 2 did not do anything since the
ancestor in stage 1 while their branch in stage 3 worked on
- stage 1 and stage 3 are the same and stage 2 is different take
stage 2 (we did something while they did nothing)
The `git-write-tree` command refuses to write a nonsensical tree, and it
will complain about unmerged entries if it sees a single entry that is not
stage 0.
OK, this all sounds like a collection of totally nonsensical rules,
but it's actually exactly what you want in order to do a fast
merge. The different stages represent the "result tree" (stage 0, aka
"merged"), the original tree (stage 1, aka "orig"), and the two trees
you are trying to merge (stage 2 and 3 respectively).
The order of stages 1, 2 and 3 (hence the order of three
<tree-ish> command line arguments) are significant when you
start a 3-way merge with an index file that is already
populated. Here is an outline of how the algorithm works:
- if a file exists in identical format in all three trees, it will
automatically collapse to "merged" state by git-read-tree.
- a file that has _any_ difference what-so-ever in the three trees
will stay as separate entries in the index. It's up to "porcelain
policy" to determine how to remove the non-0 stages, and insert a
merged version.
- the index file saves and restores with all this information, so you
can merge things incrementally, but as long as it has entries in
stages 1/2/3 (i.e., "unmerged entries") you can't write the result. So
now the merge algorithm ends up being really simple:
* you walk the index in order, and ignore all entries of stage 0,
since they've already been done.
* if you find a "stage1", but no matching "stage2" or "stage3", you
know it's been removed from both trees (it only existed in the
original tree), and you remove that entry.
* if you find a matching "stage2" and "stage3" tree, you remove one
of them, and turn the other into a "stage0" entry. Remove any
matching "stage1" entry if it exists too. .. all the normal
trivial rules ..
You would normally use `git-merge-index` with supplied
`git-merge-one-file` to do this last step. The script updates
the files in the working tree as it merges each path and at the
end of a successful merge.
When you start a 3-way merge with an index file that is already
populated, it is assumed that it represents the state of the
files in your work tree, and you can even have files with
changes unrecorded in the index file. It is further assumed
that this state is "derived" from the stage 2 tree. The 3-way
merge refuses to run if it finds an entry in the original index
file that does not match stage 2.
This is done to prevent you from losing your work-in-progress
changes, and mixing your random changes in an unrelated merge
commit. To illustrate, suppose you start from what has been
committed last to your repository:
$ JC=`git-rev-parse --verify "HEAD^0"`
$ git-checkout-index -f -u -a $JC
You do random edits, without running git-update-index. And then
you notice that the tip of your "upstream" tree has advanced
since you pulled from him:
$ git-fetch git://.... linus
$ LT=`cat .git/FETCH_HEAD`
Your work tree is still based on your HEAD ($JC), but you have
some edits since. Three-way merge makes sure that you have not
added or modified index entries since $JC, and if you haven't,
then does the right thing. So with the following sequence:
$ git-read-tree -m -u `git-merge-base $JC $LT` $JC $LT
$ git-merge-index git-merge-one-file -a
$ echo "Merge with Linus" | \
git-commit-tree `git-write-tree` -p $JC -p $LT
what you would commit is a pure merge between $JC and $LT without
your work-in-progress changes, and your work tree would be
updated to the result of the merge.
However, if you have local changes in the working tree that
would be overwritten by this merge,`git-read-tree` will refuse
to run to prevent your changes from being lost.
In other words, there is no need to worry about what exists only
in the working tree. When you have local changes in a part of
the project that is not involved in the merge, your changes do
not interfere with the merge, and are kept intact. When they
*do* interfere, the merge does not even start (`git-read-tree`
complains loudly and fails without modifying anything). In such
a case, you can simply continue doing what you were in the
middle of doing, and when your working tree is ready (i.e. you
have finished your work-in-progress), attempt the merge again.
See Also
gitlink:git-write-tree[1]; gitlink:git-ls-files[1]
Written by Linus Torvalds <>
Documentation by David Greaves, Junio C Hamano and the git-list <>.
Part of the gitlink:git[7] suite