Remote in Git

4 minute read

To be able to collaborate on any Git project, you need to know how to manage your remote repositories. Remote repositories are versions of your project that are hosted on the Internet or network somewhere. You can have several of them, each of which generally is either read-only or read/write for you. Collaborating with others involves managing these remote repositories and pushing and pulling data to and from them when you need to share work. Managing remote repositories includes knowing how to add remote repositories, remove remotes that are no longer valid, manage various remote branches and define them as being tracked or not, and more. In this section, we’ll cover some of these remote-management skills.

Showing The Remotes

To see which remote servers you have configured, you can run the git remote command. It lists the shortnames of each remote handle you’ve specified. If you’ve cloned your repository, you should at least see origin — that is the default name Git gives to the server you cloned from:

$ git clone https://github.com/schacon/ticgit
Cloning into 'ticgit'...
remote: Reusing existing pack: 1857, done.
remote: Total 1857 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
Receiving objects: 100% (1857/1857), 374.35 KiB | 268.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (772/772), done.
Checking connectivity... done.
$ cd ticgit
$ git remote
origin

You can also specify -v, which shows you the URLs that Git has stored for the shortname to be used when reading and writing to that remote:

$ git remote -v
origin https://github.com/schacon/ticgit (fetch)
origin https://github.com/schacon/ticgit (push)

If you have more than one remote, the command lists them all. For example, a repository with multiple remotes for working with several collaborators might look something like this:

$ cd grit
$ git remote -v
bakkdoor https://github.com/bakkdoor/grit (fetch)
bakkdoor https://github.com/bakkdoor/grit (push)
cho45 https://github.com/cho45/grit (fetch)
cho45 https://github.com/cho45/grit (push)
defunkt https://github.com/defunkt/grit (fetch)
defunkt https://github.com/defunkt/grit (push)
koke git://github.com/koke/grit.git (fetch)
koke git://github.com/koke/grit.git (push)
origin [email protected]:mojombo/grit.git (fetch)
origin [email protected]:mojombo/grit.git (push)

This means we can pull contributions from any of these users pretty easily.

Adding Remote Repositories

We’ve mentioned and given some demonstrations of how the git clone command implicitly adds the origin remote for you. Here’s how to add a new remote explicitly. To add a new remote Git repository as a shortname you can reference easily, run git remote add <shortname> <url>:

$ git remote
origin
$ git remote add pb https://github.com/paulboone/ticgit
$ git remote -v
origin https://github.com/schacon/ticgit (fetch)
origin https://github.com/schacon/ticgit (push)
pb https://github.com/paulboone/ticgit (fetch)
pb https://github.com/paulboone/ticgit (push)

Now you can use the string pb on the command line in lieu of the whole URL. For example, if you want to fetch all the information that Paul has but that you don’t yet have in your repository, you can run git fetch pb:

$ git fetch pb
remote: Counting objects: 43, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (36/36), done.
remote: Total 43 (delta 10), reused 31 (delta 5)
Unpacking objects: 100% (43/43), done.
From https://github.com/paulboone/ticgit
    * [new branch] master -> pb/master
    * [new branch] ticgit -> pb/ticgit

Paul’s master branch is now accessible locally as pb/master — you can merge it into one of your branches, or you can check out a local branch at that point if you want to inspect it. We’ll go over what branches are and how to use them in much more detail later.

Fetching and Pulling Your Remotes

$ git fetch <remote>

The command goes out to that remote project and pulls down all the data from that remote project that you don’t have yet. After you do this, you should have references to all the branches from that remote, which you can merge in or inspect at any time.

If you clone a repository, the command automatically adds that remote repository under the name “origin”. So, git fetch origin fetches any new work that has been pushed to that server since you cloned (or last fetched from) it. It’s important to note that the git fetch command only downloads the data to your local repository — it doesn’t automatically merge it with any of your work or modify what you’re currently working on. You have to merge it manually into your work when you’re ready.

Pushing to your Remotes

When you have your project at a point that you want to share, you have to push it upstream. The command for this is simple: git push <remote> <branch>. If you want to push your master branch to your origin server (again, cloning generally sets up both of those names for you automatically), then you can run this to push any commits you’ve done back up to the server:

$ git push origin master

This command works only if you cloned from a server to which you have write access and if nobody has pushed in the meantime. If you and someone else clone at the same time and they push upstream and then you push upstream, your push will rightly be rejected. You’ll have to fetch their work first and incorporate it into yours before you’ll be allowed to push.

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