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How Git Works
How Git Works

How Git Works

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For "Print + PDF", you'll get the PDF right away, and the print copy will ship by late July.

If you’re still perplexed by git even though you’ve been using it for years, this zine is for you!

Git has a bad reputation: it’s easy to accidentally lose your work or put your repository into a difficult-to-recover state, the terminology is arcane (detached HEAD state? reference? fast-forward? remote-tracking branch?), and the man pages are legendary for how inscrutable they are.

It’s no surprise that many people stay in their comfort zone: you might have a set of 6 git commands that work for you, and hope that nothing goes wrong.

But my experience is that after learning how git’s design choices work, it’s way easier to:

  • confidently handle diverged git branches, so you can work with others with no stress
  • recognize bad git situations, so you can quickly get out of them and move on
  • understand git’s underlying logic, so that messages like “you’re in detached HEAD state” are totally routine to deal with
  • know how git stores your history, so when you lose a commit you can always get it back

This zine explains git’s core concepts (commits! branches! merging! remotes!) with minimal jargon and a focus on the actual problems that can ruin your day. What does fast-forward failed mean? What’s “detached HEAD state” and what are you supposed to do about it? Why do commits sometimes get lost, and how can you get them back?