Skip site navigation (1)Skip section navigation (2)

FreeBSD Manual Pages


home | help

       gitsubmodules - Mounting	one repository inside another

       .gitmodules, $GIT_DIR/config

       git submodule
       git <command> --recurse-submodules

       A submodule is a	repository embedded inside another repository. The
       submodule has its own history; the repository it	is embedded in is
       called a	superproject.

       On the filesystem, a submodule usually (but not always -	see FORMS
       below) consists of (i) a	Git directory located under the
       $GIT_DIR/modules/ directory of its superproject,	(ii) a working
       directory inside	the superproject's working directory, and a .git file
       at the root of the submodule's working directory	pointing to (i).

       Assuming	the submodule has a Git	directory at $GIT_DIR/modules/foo/ and
       a working directory at path/to/bar/, the	superproject tracks the
       submodule via a gitlink entry in	the tree at path/to/bar	and an entry
       in its .gitmodules file (see gitmodules(5)) of the form = path/to/bar.

       The gitlink entry contains the object name of the commit	that the
       superproject expects the	submodule's working directory to be at.

       The section* in the .gitmodules file gives additional
       hints to	Git's porcelain	layer. For example, the
       setting specifies where to obtain the submodule.

       Submodules can be used for at least two different use cases:

	1. Using another project while maintaining independent history.
	   Submodules allow you	to contain the working tree of another project
	   within your own working tree	while keeping the history of both
	   projects separate. Also, since submodules are fixed to an arbitrary
	   version, the	other project can be independently developed without
	   affecting the superproject, allowing	the superproject project to
	   fix itself to new versions only when	desired.

	2. Splitting a (logically single) project into multiple	repositories
	   and tying them back together. This can be used to overcome current
	   limitations of Git's	implementation to have finer grained access:

	   o   Size of the Git repository: In its current form Git scales up
	       poorly for large	repositories containing	content	that is	not
	       compressed by delta computation between trees. For example, you
	       can use submodules to hold large	binary assets and these
	       repositories can	be shallowly cloned such that you do not have
	       a large history locally.

	   o   Transfer	size: In its current form Git requires the whole
	       working tree present. It	does not allow partial trees to	be
	       transferred in fetch or clone. If the project you work on
	       consists	of multiple repositories tied together as submodules
	       in a superproject, you can avoid	fetching the working trees of
	       the repositories	you are	not interested in.

	   o   Access control: By restricting user access to submodules, this
	       can be used to implement	read/write policies for	different

       Submodule operations can	be configured using the	following mechanisms
       (from highest to	lowest precedence):

       o   The command line for	those commands that support taking submodules
	   as part of their pathspecs. Most commands have a boolean flag
	   --recurse-submodules	which specify whether to recurse into
	   submodules. Examples	are grep and checkout. Some commands take
	   enums, such as fetch	and push, where	you can	specify	how submodules
	   are affected.

       o   The configuration inside the	submodule. This	includes
	   $GIT_DIR/config in the submodule, but also settings in the tree
	   such	as a .gitattributes or .gitignore files	that specify behavior
	   of commands inside the submodule.

	   For example an effect from the submodule's .gitignore file would be
	   observed when you run git status --ignore-submodules=none in	the
	   superproject. This collects information from	the submodule's
	   working directory by	running	status in the submodule	while paying
	   attention to	the .gitignore file of the submodule.

	   The submodule's $GIT_DIR/config file	would come into	play when
	   running git push --recurse-submodules=check in the superproject, as
	   this	would check if the submodule has any changes not published to
	   any remote. The remotes are configured in the submodule as usual in
	   the $GIT_DIR/config file.

       o   The configuration file $GIT_DIR/config in the superproject. Git
	   only	recurses into active submodules	(see "ACTIVE SUBMODULES"
	   section below).

	   If the submodule is not yet initialized, then the configuration
	   inside the submodule	does not exist yet, so where to	obtain the
	   submodule from is configured	here for example.

       o   The .gitmodules file	inside the superproject. A project usually
	   uses	this file to suggest defaults for the upstream collection of
	   repositories	for the	mapping	that is	required between a submodule's
	   name	and its	path.

	   This	file mainly serves as the mapping between the name and path of
	   submodules in the superproject, such	that the submodule's Git
	   directory can be located.

	   If the submodule has	never been initialized,	this is	the only place
	   where submodule configuration is found. It serves as	the last
	   fallback to specify where to	obtain the submodule from.

       Submodules can take the following forms:

       o   The basic form described in DESCRIPTION with	a Git directory, a
	   working directory, a	gitlink, and a .gitmodules entry.

       o   "Old-form" submodule: A working directory with an embedded .git
	   directory, and the tracking gitlink and .gitmodules entry in	the
	   superproject. This is typically found in repositories generated
	   using older versions	of Git.

	   It is possible to construct these old form repositories manually.

	   When	deinitialized or deleted (see below), the submodule's Git
	   directory is	automatically moved to $GIT_DIR/modules/<name>/	of the

       o   Deinitialized submodule: A gitlink, and a .gitmodules entry,	but no
	   submodule working directory.	The submodule's	Git directory may be
	   there as after deinitializing the Git directory is kept around. The
	   directory which is supposed to be the working directory is empty

	   A submodule can be deinitialized by running git submodule deinit.
	   Besides emptying the	working	directory, this	command	only modifies
	   the superproject's $GIT_DIR/config file, so the superproject's
	   history is not affected. This can be	undone using git submodule

       o   Deleted submodule: A	submodule can be deleted by running git	rm
	   <submodule path> && git commit. This	can be undone using git

	   The deletion	removes	the superproject's tracking data, which	are
	   both	the gitlink entry and the section in the .gitmodules file. The
	   submodule's working directory is removed from the file system, but
	   the Git directory is	kept around as it to make it possible to
	   checkout past commits without requiring fetching from another

	   To completely remove	a submodule, manually delete

       A submodule is considered active,

	1. if submodule.<name>.active is set to	true


	2. if the submodule's path matches the pathspec	in


	3. if submodule.<name>.url is set.

       and these are evaluated in this order.

       For example:

	   [submodule "foo"]
	     active = false
	     url =
	   [submodule "bar"]
	     active = true
	     url =
	   [submodule "baz"]
	     url =

       In the above config only	the submodule bar and baz are active, bar due
       to (1) and baz due to (3). foo is inactive because (1) takes precedence
       over (3)

       Note that (3) is	a historical artefact and will be ignored if the (1)
       and (2) specify that the	submodule is not active. In other words, if we
       have a submodule.<name>.active set to false or if the submodule's path
       is excluded in the pathspec in,	the url	doesn't	matter
       whether it is present or	not. This is illustrated in the	example	that

	   [submodule "foo"]
	     active = true
	     url =
	   [submodule "bar"]
	     url =
	   [submodule "baz"]
	     url =
	   [submodule "bob"]
	     ignore = true
	     active = b*
	     active = :(exclude) baz

       In here all submodules except baz (foo, bar, bob) are active. foo due
       to its own active flag and all the others due to	the submodule active
       pathspec, which specifies that any submodule starting with b except baz
       are also	active,	regardless of the presence of the .url field.

	   # add a submodule
	   git submodule add <url> <path>

	   # occasionally update the submodule to a new	version:
	   git -C <path> checkout <new version>
	   git add <path>
	   git commit -m "update submodule to new version"

	   # See the list of submodules	in a superproject
	   git submodule status

	   # See FORMS on removing submodules

	   # Enable recursion for relevant commands, such that
	   # regular commands recurse into submodules by default
	   git config --global submodule.recurse true

	   # Unlike the	other commands below clone still needs
	   # its own recurse flag:
	   git clone --recurse <URL> <directory>
	   cd <directory>

	   # Get to know the code:
	   git grep foo
	   git ls-files

	   # Get new code
	   git fetch
	   git pull --rebase

	   # change worktree
	   git checkout
	   git reset

       When cloning or pulling a repository containing submodules the
       submodules will not be checked out by default; You can instruct clone
       to recurse into submodules. The init and	update subcommands of git
       submodule will maintain submodules checked out and at an	appropriate
       revision	in your	working	tree. Alternatively you	can set
       submodule.recurse to have checkout recursing into submodules (note that
       submodule.recurse also affects other git	commands, see git-config(1)
       for a complete list).

       git-submodule(1), gitmodules(5).

       Part of the git(1) suite

Git 2.28.0			  07/26/2020		      GITSUBMODULES(7)


Want to link to this manual page? Use this URL:

home | help