Git - Shallow Clones & Branches

Posted by Misagh Moayyed on February 21, 2024 · 3 mins read ·
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A shallow clone in Git is a way to clone a repository with only a limited history. When you perform a standard clone of a Git repository, you typically get the entire history of that repository, including all commits, branches, and tags. With a shallow clone, you specify a depth parameter that limits the number of commits fetched from the remote repository. This can significantly reduce the amount of time and disk space required for cloning large repositories.

An example would be:

git clone --depth 1

After a shallow clone, a common use case might be to try to switch to other possible branches of the repository. However, git does not show any of the remote branches afterwards:

cd cas
git branch -a
* master
  remotes/origin/HEAD -> origin/master

Not cool, right?

To get around this and after doing a shallow clone, you will need to do:

git remote set-branches origin '*'

…and then:

git fetch --depth=1

set-branches is used to specify which branches of a remote repository you want to track locally. Once you’ve set the branches to track with git remote set-branches, you can fetch updates for those branches from the remote repository using git fetch <remote>. Git will then download any new commits from the specified branches and update your local references accordingly.

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I hope this review was of some help to you and I am sure that both this post as well as the functionality it attempts to explain can be improved in any number of ways.

Happy Coding,

Misagh Moayyed