Git can be confusing. It’s more confusing fumbling with git under pressure. As a release engineer fumbling with git under pressure is a appreciable chunk of my job; as such, I’ve learned a trick or two.

Recently I added some general git advice to our shared wiki page for deployers. I am reproducing this advice here for posterity. The goal of this advice is to ensure that deployers are seeing all the information they need to make smart decisions about the current state of a git repository. There are times when this advice has allowed me to figure out a problem with a git repository simply by cd-ing into its worktree.

  1. Use a git-aware prompt. The script that is included in git’s contrib tree is my preferred prompt. There are instructions for use in comments at the beginning of the file. One simple way to use it (on Debian machines anyway) is to add the following to your shell initialization file:

    GIT_PS1_SHOWUPSTREAM="auto verbose"
    . /etc/bash_completion.d/git-prompt
    PS1='[\u@\h \W$(__git_ps1 " (%s)")]\$ '
  2. Set status.submoduleSummary. By default submodules have limited visibility in git status which makes it easy to miss a git submodule update step. After adding status.submoduleSummary to your ~/.gitconfig, git will show you a short summary of submodule changes in the output of git status. Set it by executing:

    you@computer:~$ git config --global status.submoduleSummary true