Tag Archives: mercurial

hg.complete.org is no more

As of today, hg.complete.org is no more. I have removed mercurial and hgwebdir from my server, removed hg from my DNS zone, and converted everything that was in Mercurial over to Git. (Except for hg-buildpackage, which I have orphaned) So there is now stuff at git.complete.org.

I still have a ton of Darcs repos to convert, which will take more time.

Also I have heard a lot of people say that the GitPlugin for Trac is not very good. I have two Trac instances running it: one for commithooks and another for ListLike. Both seem OK so far, but I haven’t pushed them very much yet.

Revisiting Git and Mercurial

Exactly one year ago today, I wrote about Git, Mercurial, and Bzr. I have long been interested in VCS, and looked at the three main DVCS systems back then.

A Quick Review

Mercurial was, and for the moment, remains, my main VCS. Bzr remains really uninteresting; I don’t see it offering anything compelling that Mercurial or Git can’t do. My Git gripes mainly revolved around its interface and documentation. Also, I do have Windows people using my software, and need a plausible solution for them, even though I personally do no development on that platform.

Ted Tso wrote his own article in reply to mine, noting that the Git community had identified many of the same things I had ans was working on them.

I followed up to Ted with:

… So if Ted’s right, and a year from now git is easier to use, better documented, more featureful, and runs well on Windows, it won’t be that hard to switch over and preserve history. Ted’s the sort of person that usually is right, so maybe I should starting looking at hg2git right now.

So I guess that means it’s time to start looking at Git again.

This is rather rambly, I know. It’s late and I want to get these thoughts down before going to sleep…

Looking at Git

I started at the Git wikipedia page for an overview of the software. It linked to two Google Tech Talks about Git: one by Linus Torvalds and another by Randal Schwartz. Of the two, I found Linus’ more entertaining and Randal’s more informative. Linus’ point that CVS is fundamentally broken, and that SVN trying to be “a better CVS” (an early goal of svn, at least) means it too is fundamentally broken, strikes me as quite sound.

One other interesting tidbit I picked up is that git can show you where functions have moved from one file to another, thanks to its rename-detection heuristic. That sounds really sweet, and is the best reason I’ve yet heard for Git’s stubborn refusal to track renames.

The Landscape

I’ve been following Mercurial and Darcs somewhat, and not paying much attention to Git. Mercurial has been adding small features, and is nearing version 1.0. Darcs has completed a major overhaul both of its repository format and internal algorithms and is nearing version 2.0, and appears to have finally killed the doppleganger (aka conflict spinlock) bug for good.

Git, meanwhile, seems to have made strides in usability and documentation in its 1.5.x versions.

One thing particularly interesting to me is: what projects are using the different VCSs. High-profile projects now using Mercurial include OpenSolaris, OpenJDK (Java 7), and Mozilla’s projects. Git has, of course, the Linux kernel. It also has just about everything associated with freedesktop.org, including X. Also a ton of Unixy stuff.

Both Mercurial and Git communities are working on TortoiseHg/TortoiseGit types of GUIs for Windows users. Git appears to have a sane Windows port now as well, putting it on pretty much even footing with Mercurial and Darcs there. However, I didn’t spot anything with obvious Windows ties in the Git “what projects use git” pages.

The greater speed of Mercurial and Git — even for pushing and pulling small patches — likely will keep me away from Darcs for the moment.


As time allows (I do have other things keeping me busy), I plan to install git and work through some tutorials and try to use it in practice as much as possible, to get a good feel for it.


It is beneficial to be using a VCS that is popular, though that is certainly not a major criterion for me. I refuse to use SVN because its lack of distributed functionality makes it too unproductive to be useful. But it looks like Git is gaining a lot of traction these days, especially in Debian circles, which also makes it more interesting.

I notice that Ted did convert e2fsprogs over to git as he said he might, incidentally.

Mercurial & Git

About two weeks ago, I wrote about my thoughts on Mercurial and how I was switching to it from Darcs.

At the time, I had skipped Git because of its lack of Windows support. I have some contributors to pieces of Free Software that I write that use Windows, and that seemed a pretty big flaw.

But I recently discovered git-svn and git-svnimport, both of which look like great tools for working with our friends using svn that haven’t yet gotten ahold of the DVCS light. Then I noticed that Git has a CVS server emulation tool, which means that Windows users can use TortoiseCVS to interact with it. Nice.

I spent some time today learning Git. This was a lot easier having already learned Mercurial. Git and Mercurial have very similar philosophies to a number of things, but the Mercurial documentation explains all this far better than the Git documentation does.

I’m going to have to try both of them out more and see what I think. But git-svn (which is bi-directional) certainly looks like a very nice thing.

Neither of them have something as nice as darcs send, though.

Re-Examining Darcs & Mercurial

I recently wrote an article or two about distributed version control systems.

I’ve been using Darcs since 2005. I switched to Darcs, in fact, 10 days after the simultaneous founding announcements of git and Mercurial.

Overall, I have been happy. I continue to believe that it is the most distributed of the distributed VCSs, which is a Good Thing.

However, I have lately started having trouble with Darcs hanging while working on my Debian packages. My post to the Darcs user list drew out a few other people whith this problem, which is a design flaw of Darcs.

So I revisited the VCS landscape. I re-examined git, Mercurial, and bzr. I eventually decided to give Mercurial a try. I avoided git because I write some code that is portable to Windows, and git isn’t (or isn’t very well). Also, git is complex to pick up for me, and I certainly don’t want to force something complex onto my contributors. bzr seemed to still have some strange behaviors that it’s had for awhile, and I couldn’t find even one advantage of it over Mercurial. So off I went with Mercurial.

I quickly learned a bit of a philosophical difference from Darcs to Mercurial.

Darcs avoids conflicts at all costs. Mercurial makes handling conflict easy and, in many cases, automatic.

It is exactly this Darcs behavior that permits both is excellent “darcs send” feature (still unmatched in any other VCS), but also causes its hang problems.

I found Mercurial quite pleasant to work with, and *fast*. It seems to be edging out git in speed tests sometimes these days.

It is easy to get started with Mercurial. The mq system — similar to quilt or other patch-management programs — is really quite an amazing hybrid between patch management and version control. I frankly don’t see any need for other patch-management tools anymore.

Mercurial has a “patchbomb” feature where you can select a range of changesets to send off, and it will generate nice emails with one changeset per email, and send them to your selected destination, optionally with an introductory message. The normal way of interacting with other Mercurial users is via the hg export/import commands, which send around simple unified diffs plus some additional header information, optionally in the git extended diff format.

I am happy with Mercurial and am in the process of converting my Debian repositories from Darcs to Mercurial. I’m going to keep my personal code in Darcs for the moment because “darcs send” is still easier than “hg email”, but that may change before long, depending on how my experience goes.

I’d encourage others to give Mercurial a try. The community is also very nice and helpful.

I have contributed patches to Tailor to make it make exact copies of Darcs repos into Mercurial, which are now in its Darcs repo. There is also a thread on the Mercurial list with some of my initial questions/concerns coming from a Darcs perspective.