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.TH dgit 7 "" "Debian Project" "dgit"
dgit \- principles of operation
.B dgit
treats the Debian archive as a version control system, and
bidirectionally gateways between the archive and git.  The git view of
the package can contain the usual upstream git history, and will be
augmented by commits representing uploads done by other developers not
using dgit.  This git history is stored in a canonical location known
.B dgit-repos
which lives on a dedicated git server.
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git branches suitable for use with dgit
can be edited directly in git,
and used directly for building binary packages.
They can be shared using all conventional means for sharing git
It is not necessary to use dgit to work with dgitish git branches.
However, dgit is (usually) needed in order to convert to or from
Debian-format source packages.
Reference manual and documentation catalogue.
Tutorials and workflow guides.  See dgit(1) for a list.
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You may use any suitable git workflow with dgit, provided you
satisfy dgit's requirements:

dgit maintains a pseudo-remote called
.BR dgit ,
with one branch per suite.  This remote cannot be used with
plain git.

.B dgit-repos
repository for each package contains one ref per suite named
\fBrefs/dgit/\fR\fIsuite\fR.  These should be pushed to only by
dgit.  They are fast forwarding.  Each push on this branch
corresponds to an upload (or attempted upload).

However, it is perfectly fine to have other branches in dgit-repos;
normally the dgit-repos repo for the package will be accessible via
the remote name `origin'.

dgit push will also make signed tags called
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.BI archive/debian/ version
(with version encoded a la DEP-14)
and push them to dgit-repos.  These are used at the
server to authenticate pushes.
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Uploads made by dgit contain an additional field
.B Dgit
in the source package .dsc.  (This is added by dgit push.)
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This specifies: a commit (an ancestor of the dgit/suite
branch) whose tree is identical to the unpacked source upload;
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the distro to which the upload was made;
a tag name which can be used to fetch the git commits;
a url to use as a hint for the dgit git server for that distro.
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Uploads not made by dgit are represented in git by commits which are
synthesised by dgit.  The tree of each such commit corresponds to the
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unpacked source; there is a
commit with the contents,
and a
Ian Jackson's avatar
Ian Jackson committed
pseudo-merge from last known upload - that is, from the contents of
the dgit/suite branch.
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Depending on the source package format,
the contents commit may have a more complex structure,
but ultimately it will be a convergence of stubby branches
from origin commits representing the components of the source package.

dgit expects trees that it works with to have a
.B dgit
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(pseudo) remote.  This refers to the dgit-created git view of
the corresponding archive.

The dgit archive tracking view is synthesised locally,
on demand,
by each copy of dgit.
The tracking view is always a descendant of the
dgit-repos suite branch (if one exists),
but may be ahead of it if uploads have been done without dgit.
The archive tracking view is always fast forwarding within
each suite.

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dgit push can operate on any commit which is a descendant of
the suite tracking branch.

dgit does not make a systematic record of
its imports of orig tarball(s).
So it does not work by finding git tags or branches
referring to orig tarball(s).
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orig tarballs are downloaded (by dgit clone) into the parent
directory, as with a traditional (non-gitish) dpkg-source workflow.
You need to retain these tarballs in the parent directory for dgit
build and dgit push.
(They are not needed for purely-git-based workflows.)

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dgit repositories could be cloned with standard (git) methods.
the dgit repositories do not contain uploads not made with dgit.
for sourceful builds / uploads the orig
tarball(s) will need to be present in the parent directory.

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To a user looking at the archive, changes pushed
in a simple NMU
using dgit look like
changes made in an NMU: in a `3.0 (quilt)' package the delta from the
previous upload is recorded in new patch(es) constructed by dpkg-source.
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dgit can synthesize a combined view of several underlying suites.
This is requested by specifying, for
.I suite,
a comma-separated list:
.IR mainsuite \fB,\fR subsuite ...
This facility is available with dgit clone, fetch and pull, only.

dgit will fetch the same package from each specified underlying suite,
separately (as if with dgit fetch).
dgit will then generate a pseudomerge commit
on the tracking branch
.BI remotes/dgit/dgit/ suite
which has the tip of each of the underlying suites
as an ancestor,
and which contains the same as the suite which
has the highest version of the package.

The package must exist in mainsuite,
but need not exist in the subsuites.

If a specified subsuite starts with
.B -
then mainsuite is prepended.

So, for example,
.B stable,-security
means to look for the package in stable, and stable-security,
taking whichever is newer.
If stable is currently jessie,
dgit clone would leave you on the branch
.BR dgit/jessie,-security .

Combined suites are not supported by the dgit build operations.
This is because those options are intended for building for
uploading source packages,
and look in the changelog to find the relevant suite.
It does not make sense to name a dgit-synthesised combined suite
in a changelog,
or to try to upload to it.

When using this facility, it is important to always specify the
same suites in the same order:
dgit will not make a coherent fast-forwarding history
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view otherwise.

The history generated by this feature is not normally suitable
for merging back into upstreams,
as it necessarily contains unattractive pseudomerges.
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Because the synthesis
of the suite tracking branches
is done locally based only on the current archive state,
it will not necessarily see every upload
not done with dgit.
Also, different versions of dgit
(or the software it calls)
might import the same .dscs differently
(although we try to minimise this).
As a consequence, the dgit tracking views of the same
suite, made by different instances of dgit, may vary.
They will have the same contents, but may have different history.

There is no uniform linkage between the tracking branches for
different suites.
The Debian infrastructure
does not do any automatic import of uploads made without dgit.
It would be possible for a distro's infrastructure to do this;
in that case,
different dgit client instances
would see exactly the same history.

There has been no bulk import of historical uploads into
Debian's dgit infrastructure.
To do this it would be necessary to decide whether to
import existing vcs history
(which might not be faithful to dgit's invariants)
or previous non-Dgit uploads
(which would not provide a very rich history).
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git represents only file executability.
git does not represent empty directories,
or any leaf objects other than plain files and symlinks.
The behaviour of Debian source package formats
on objects with unusual permissions is complicated.
Some pathological Debian source packages will no longer build
if empty directories are pruned
(or if other things not reproduced by git are changed).
Such sources cannot be worked with properly in git,
and therefore not with dgit either.
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Distros which do not maintain a set of dgit history git repositories
can still be used in a read-only mode with dgit.  Currently Ubuntu
is configured this way.
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git has features which can automatically transform files
as they are being copied between the working tree
and the git history.
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The attributes can be specified in the source tree itself,
.BR .gitattributes .
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See \fBgitattributes\fP(5).

These transformations are context-sensitive
and not, in general, reversible,
so dgit operates on the principle that
the dgit git history contains the actual contents of the package.
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(When dgit is manipulating a .dsc,
it does so in a private area,
where the transforming gitattributes are defused,
to achieve this.)

If transforming gitattributes are used,
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they can cause trouble,
because the working tree files can differ from
the git revision history
(and therefore from the source packages).
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dgit warns if it finds a .gitattributes file
(in a package being fetched or imported),
unless the transforming gitattributes have been defused.

dgit clone
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and dgit setup-new-tree
disable transforming gitattributes
by default,
by creating a suitable .git/info/attributes.
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.B dgit setup-new-tree
.B dgit setup-gitattributes
in dgit(1).
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Note that dgit does not disable gitattributes
unless they would actually interfere with your work on dgit branches.
In particular, gitattributes which affect
.B git archive
are not disabled,
so .origs you generate by hand can be wrong.
You should consider using
.B git-deborig (1)
which gets this right, suppressing the attributes.
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If you are not the maintainer, you do not need to worry about the
source format of the package.  You can just make changes as you like
in git.  If the package is a `3.0 (quilt)' package, the patch stack
will usually not be represented in the git history.
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Debian source package formats
do not always faithfully reproduce
changes to executability.
But dgit insists that the result of dgit clone is identical
(as far as git can represent - see Limitations, above)
to the result of dpkg-source -x.

So files that are executable in your git tree
must be executable in the result of dpkg-source -x
(but often aren't).
If a package has such troublesome files,
they have to be non-executable in dgit-compatible git branches.
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For a format `3.0 (quilt)' source package, dgit may have to make a
commit on your current branch to contain metadata used by quilt and

This is because `3.0 (quilt)' source format represents the patch stack
as files in debian/patches/ actually inside the source tree.  This
means that, taking the whole tree (as seen by git or ls) (i)
dpkg-source cannot represent certain trees, and (ii) packing up a tree
in `3.0 (quilt)' and then unpacking it does not always yield the same

dgit will automatically work around this for you when building and
pushing.  The only thing you need to know is that dgit build, sbuild,
etc., may make new commits on your HEAD.  If you're not a quilt user
this commit won't contain any changes to files you care about.

Simply committing to source files
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(whether in debian/ or not, but not to patches)
will result in a branch that dgit quilt-fixup can linearise.
Other kinds of changes,
including editing patches or merging,
cannot be handled this way.

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You can explicitly request that dgit do just this fixup, by running
dgit quilt-fixup.

If you are a quilt user you need to know that dgit's git trees are
`patches applied packaging branches' and do not contain the .pc
directory (which is used by quilt to record which patches are
applied).  If you want to manipulate the patch stack you probably want
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to be looking at tools like
git-debrebase, gbp pq, or git-dpm.
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.SS quilt fixup error messages
When dgit's quilt fixup fails, it prints messages like this:

dgit: base trees orig=5531f03d8456b702eab6 o+d/p=135338e9cc253cc85f84
dgit: quilt differences: src:  == orig ##     gitignores:  == orig ##
dgit: quilt differences:      HEAD ## o+d/p               HEAD ## o+d/p
starting quiltify (multiple patches, linear mode)

dgit: error: quilt fixup cannot be linear.  Stopped at:
dgit:  696c9bd5..84ae8f96: changed debian/patches/test-gitignore

.B orig
is an import of the .orig tarballs dgit found,
with the debian/ directory from your HEAD substituted.
This is a git tree object, not a commit:
you can pass its hash to git-diff but not git-log.

.B o+d/p
is another tree object,
which is the same as orig
but with the patches from debian/patches applied.

is of course your own git HEAD.

.B quilt differences
shows whether each of the these trees differs from the others
(i) in upstream files excluding .gitignore files;
(ii) in upstream .gitignore files.
.B ==
indicates equality;
.B ##
indicates inequality.
dgit quilt-fixup --quilt=linear walks commits
backwards from your HEAD
trying to construct a linear set of additional patches,
starting at the end.
It hopes to eventually find an ancestor
whose tree is identical to o+d/p in all upstream files.

In the error message,
is the first commit child-parent edge
which cannot sensibly be
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either ignored, or turned into a patch in debian/patches.
In this example, this is because
it itself changes files in debian/patches,
indicating that something unusual is going on
and that continuing is not safe.
But you might also see other kinds of troublesome commit or edge.

Your appropriate response depends on the cause and the context.
If you have been freely merging your git branch
and do not need need a pretty linear patch queue,
you can use
.B --quilt=smash
(or use the
.B 1.0
.B single-debian-patch
source formats; see
.BR dpkg-source(1) .)
If you want a pretty linear series,
and this message is unexpected,
it can mean that you have unwittingly committed changes
that are not representable by dpkg-source (such as some mode changes).
Or maybe you just forgot a necessary
.B --quilt=
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this problem can occur if you have provided
Debian git tooling such as git-debrebase, git-dpm or git-buildpackage
with upstream git commit(s) or tag(s)
which are not 100% identical to your orig tarball(s).
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When working with git branches intended
for use with the `3.0 (quilt)' source format
dgit can automatically convert a suitable
maintainer-provided git branch
(in one of a variety of formats)
into a dgit branch.

When a split view mode is engaged
dgit build commands and
dgit push
will, on each invocation,
convert the user's HEAD into the dgit view,
so that it can be built and/or uploaded.

dgit push in split view mode will push the dgit view to the dgit
git server.
The dgit view is always a descendant of the maintainer view.
dgit push will also make a maintainer view tag
according to DEP-14
and push that to the dgit git server.

Split view mode must be enabled explicitly
(by the use of the applicable command line options,
subcommands, or configuration).
This is because it is not possible to reliably tell
(for example)
whether a git tree for a dpkg-source `3.0 (quilt)' package
is a patches-applied or patches-unapplied tree.

Split view conversions are cached in the ref
This should not be manipulated directly.
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This section is mainly of interest to maintainers who want to use dgit
with their existing git history for the Debian package.

Some developers like to have an extra-clean git tree which lacks files
which are normally found in source tarballs and therefore in Debian
source packages.  For example, it is conventional to ship ./configure
in the source tarball, but some people prefer not to have it present
in the git view of their project.

dgit requires that the source package unpacks to exactly the same
files as are in the git commit on which dgit push operates.  So if you
just try to dgit push directly from one of these extra-clean git
branches, it will fail.

As the maintainer you therefore have the following options:
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Delete the files from your git branches,
and your Debian source packages,
and carry the deletion as a delta from upstream.
(With `3.0 (quilt)' this means representing the deletions as patches.
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You may need to pass --include-removal to dpkg-source --commit,
or pass corresponding options to other tools.)
This can make the Debian
source package less useful for people without Debian build
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Persuade upstream that the source code in their git history and the
source they ship as tarballs should be identical.  Of course simply
removing the files from the tarball may make the tarball hard for
people to use.
One answer is to commit the (maybe autogenerated)
files, perhaps with some simple automation to deal with conflicts and
spurious changes.  This has the advantage that someone who clones
the git repository finds the program just as easy to build as someone
who uses the tarball.
Of course it may also be that the differences are due to build system
bugs, which cause unintended files to end up in the source package.
dgit will notice this and complain.  You may have to fix these bugs
before you can unify your existing git history with dgit's.
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Some upstream tarballs contain build artifacts which upstream expects
some users not to want to rebuild (or indeed to find hard to rebuild),
but which in Debian we always rebuild.
Examples sometimes include crossbuild firmware binaries and
To avoid problems when building updated source
(in particular, to avoid trying to represent as changes in
the source package uninteresting or perhaps unrepresentable changes
to such files)
many maintainers arrange for the package clean target
to delete these files.
dpkg-source does not
(with any of the commonly used source formats)
represent deletion of binaries (outside debian/) present in upstream.
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Thus deleting such files in a dpkg-source working tree does not
actually result in them being deleted from the source package.
deleting the files in rules clean sweeps this problem under the rug.
However, git does always properly record file deletion.
Since dgit's
principle is that the dgit git tree is the same of dpkg-source -x,
that means that a dgit-compatible git tree always contains these
For the non-maintainer,
this can be observed in the following suboptimal occurrences:
The package clean target often deletes these files, making the git
tree dirty trying to build the source package, etc.
This can be fixed
by using
.BR "dgit -wg" " aka " "--clean=git" ,
so that the package clean target is never run.
The package build modifies these files, so that builds make the git
tree dirty.
This can be worked around by using `git reset --hard'
after each build
(or at least before each commit or push).
From the maintainer's point of view,
the main consequence is that to make a dgit-compatible git branch
it is necessary to commit these files to git.
The maintainer has a few additional options for mitigation:
for example,
it may be possible for the rules file to arrange to do the
build in a temporary area, which avoids updating the troublesome
they can then be left in the git tree without seeing trouble.
A related problem is other unexpected behaviour by a package's
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.B clean
If a package's rules
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modify files which are distributed in the package,
or simply forget to remove certain files,
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dgit will complain that the tree is dirty.
Again, the solution is to use
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.BR "dgit -wg" " aka " "--clean=git" ,
which instructs dgit to use git clean instead of the package's
build target,
along with perhaps
.B git reset --hard
before each build.
This is 100% reliable, but has the downside
that if you forget to git add or to commit, and then use
.BR "dgit -wg" " or " "git reset --hard" ,
your changes may be lost.