Git Best Practices

This document provides advice and guidance on using and contributing to the Enlightenment Project git repositories. Please read through this document before providing pull requests, patches, or working on a repository for the first time.

A web interface to the Enlightenment Foundation repositories is available at


You will require git to be installed. Linux distributions using the apt package manager can install this prerequisite with the following command:

sudo apt install git

You are also expected to already possess a working knowledge of git; for more information see the Git User Manual. You should also have read the Coding Conventions guide before writing any code destined for submission.

Submitting and Reviewing Patches

For information about the patch review process see the Patch Submission and Review with Arcanist guide

Rebase Instead of Merge

Ensure that you have git set to rebase, rather than merge, by running the following command against your copy of the Enlightenment repository.

$ git config branch.master.rebase true

You can also make this configuration globally, but be aware this applies to all git repositories you access:

$ git config --global branch.master.rebase true

Commit Messages

Commit messages should be detailed rather than terse and include as much information about the commit as is reasonable. Please use the imperative form in the commit message in order to be consistent with the commit messages generated by git merge and revert. Write "Fix text bug", rather than "Fixed text bug".

Message Layout

The general layout of a commit message should be as follows:

  • Line 1: {Module or Working Area}: A brief/short description of why the change has been made. This should be a single line with a maximum of 76 characters - like a NEWS entry.
  • Line 2: Leave this line empty.
  • Line 3+: The body text with a detailed description of the change. Explain why and how you have changed or fixed something in as much details as possible. Wrap lines at 76 characters.

Message Tags

Depending on the nature of your commit some of the following tags might apply:

  • @fix - To be used when you fixed a bug which also applies to a released version (i.e. is not exclusively code from this development cycle). This tag is used as a marker for backports, although commits can be tagged as @fix but not backported if the backport is too "dangerous" to be in the stable branch - for example a fix that required some core rewrites.
  • @feature - To be used when your commit introduces a new feature. Make sure your summary line is in really good shape and descriptive as this will be used in the NEWS file for the release. If this change consists of more than one commit only put it once - or, better yet, put it in the merge commit.
  • CID: XXXXX - To be used if you fixed a issue discovered by a Coverity scan. It gives credit to them and helps us to see which commit relates to which issue.
  • Fixes TXXX - Add a Phab ticket number if you fix a bug being tracked in Phab.

All these tags should live in the commit body with the detailed description, and not in the summary line. It is preferred if the tags are added as a separate line at the end of the commit message, though they will function from anywhere in the commit body.

Simple Message Example

spinner: Uncomment ctype.h inclusion because isspace is used.
It looks like ctype.h is included in some other headers by luck but it
is recommended to explicitly include the necessary header.
Confirmed by glima as he commented this out.

Feature Addition Message Example

eina: Add purple/yellow cherry tree algorithm implementation
Newest research shows that the purple/yellow cherry tree algo is
way more efficient memory wise. Add a implementation to eina
so we can try it out in the real world.

Bug Fix Message Example

evas textblock: Fix buffer overflow in anchor code
If we set the anchor on a long text block the buffer might overflow.
Take string len into account. Long-standing bug.
Fixes T2222
CID: 123456

Merging Changes Back into Master

Use cherry-pick for small changes if you don't want to push everything into master. If you did work into your own branch and worked on some big feature then you should push to master using the following workflow:

  1. Create a branch, either local or remote, for your change.
  2. Work on that branch.
  3. When ready, instead of pushing to master, rebase over master: git fetch; git rebase -p origin/master.
  4. If the commit history does not follow the Commit Message guidelines rebase interactive to make sure all your pending patch notes are meaningful; merge them and change their commit messages as necessary.
  5. Switch to master: git checkout master
  6. git merge --no-ff your-feature-branch-name
  7. Describe your feature in the commit message.
  8. Push to master using git push or git push origin master.

Repository layout

The Enlightenment git repository is laid out in the following manner.

Main Branches

The official branches are:

  • master - This is where all new work goes.
  • {name}-{version} (e.g. "efl-1.8") - The stabilization branch for a specific version.

Developer Branches

Every developer can create their own branches inside a repository. The naming must be devs/{devname}/* where {devname} is your user name (the directory name in the devs repository).

These branches can be used if you're implementing a larger feature and want to share your progress with other developers.

Creating a Developer Branch

Create a developer branch by pushing it to the remote repository:

$ git push --set-upstream origin devs/{devname}/{branch}

Deleting a Developer Branch

Pass the --delete option to git-push to delete a developer branch:

$ git push origin --delete devs/{devname}/{branch}

Feature Branches

Anyone with full commit access can create, manage, or delete a feature branch for a repository. The naming must be feature/{name} where {name} is the name of the feature. Feature branches can be pushed to by anyone with any form of commit access (including probies), but they cannot be rewritten (ie. no rebase -i).

The purpose of a feature branch is to continue the collaborative development of a feature which has already reached the state of being functional during initial development in a developer branch; feature branches should be considered the "alpha release" state for any significant feature prior to merging it to master.

Feature branches will be automatically built by jenkins, and any build failures will be emailed to everyone who has any commits in the branch.

Creating and managing feature branches is identical to the management of developer branches with only the name of the branch being changed.

Developer Repositories

If you are starting a new project, or just trying something out that doesn't belong to any of the existing repositories, you can create your own developer repository.

Creating a Developer Repository

Create a new develop repository by using git clone:

$ git clone ssh://{devname}/foo.git

Setting the Description

In order for the Repository Web Interface to show a meaningful description set it with gitolite's desc command:

$ ssh desc devs/{devname}/foo "Foo repository does bar"

Deleting a Developer Repository

Delete a developer repository using gitolite's trash command:

$ ssh D trash devs/{devname}/foo
devs/{devname}/foo moved to trashcan.  Please run the 'help' adc for more info.

Please note you need to use the repository name without .git at the end when running the trash command.

Listing Deleted Developer Repositories

To list the currently deleted repositories type:

$ ssh D list-trash

Restoring Deleted Developer Repositories

To restore a previously deleted repository:

$ ssh D restore

Gitolite Help

Access gitolite's general help by typing:

$ ssh help

Drill down to command-specific help with -h:

$ ssh desc -h

Useful Aliases

The following git aliases can be used on any project and are designed to help with working on a central git repository. These aliases can be set in your global configuration by running the command git config.


Update the current branch.

$ git config --global alias.up "pull --rebase"

This alias makes git work like svn: it will fetch and rebase your code on the current branch.


Update master without checking it out.

$ git config --global alias.up-master "fetch origin master:master"

This alias updates the master branch from upstream even if the currently checked out branch is not master. This is useful when you work on a branch and want to rebase on top of upstream's master.


"What's up" report.

$ git config --global alias.wu "log --reverse --stat @{upstream}..HEAD"

This alias shows the commits you're about to push upstream.


"What's up" report with patch information.

$ git config --global alias.wup "log --reverse --stat -p @{upstream}..HEAD"

This alias shows the commits you're about to push upstream and their contents.


Shortened "what's up" report.

$ git config --global alias.wus "log --reverse --oneline @{upstream}..HEAD"

A terse version of the "what's up" alias which shows the commits to push using single-line formatting.


Push after reviewing which commits will be sent.

$ git config --global alias.safepush '![[ `git wus |wc -l` > 0 ]] && ( git wus && echo -n "Push to `git rev-parse --symbolic-full-name @{upstream}` [y/N]\\ " && read y && ( [[ $y =~ [yY] ]] && git push ) || true ) || echo "Nothing to push."'

This alias tells you what commits you're about to push and asks for confirmation before pushing. This can help you avoid mistakes when pushing stuff out in the wild.

Further Reading
A web interface to the Enlightenment git repositories.
Patch Submission and Review with Arcanist
Information on the patch submission and review process.
The mailing list for git assistance requests.
The Enlightenment Phab ticket tracking system.
The Openstack Project's guide to what information should be in a commit message.
Peter Hutterer's guide to good commit messages.
The VideoLAN Project uses the same workflow as the Enlightenment Project.
Coding Conventions
Rules to which code submitted to the Enlightenment Project must adhere.