Notes on Git

High Level Overview

Usage: track changes of files over time

  • Git tracks different snapshots of a project by using commits
  • a branch is a pointer to a commit in the repo
  • HEAD is the symbolic name for the currently checked out commit
  • detached HEAD means that the HEAD is poiting to a commit instead of a branch

🤓 reference : git can resemble a big directed acyclic graph

Basic commands

  • Local

Command Description
git init example Initialise a repository with the name “example”
git status See the files in the staging area compared to the current branch
git add myfile Add a file to the staging area
git rm myfile Remove a file from the working index and staging area
git commit -m “my message” Save all the stages file as a new commit in the current branch with the message “my message”
git diff Shows what changes have been made that are not yet committed(compares the working area, not the staging area with the branch)
git diff –staged Shows the changes that have been staged, but not yet committed
  • Remote

Command Description
git pull remote Fetch the new changes from the remote and merge them to the current branch
git clone url_to_repo Copy a repo to the current directory and save it with the same name as the repo
Visual Representation

Intermediate commands

  • Local

Command Description
git mv Rename a file and detect it automatically in the staging area
git diff –staged Show any changes that have been made in the staging area compared with the branch
git reset HEAD~1 Move the current branch 1 commit back
git branch -f master HEAD~2 Move the “master” branch to point 2 commits back from where HEAD points to
git bisect start Find the first bad commit using binary search
git cherry-pick Copy the commits(as hashes) on top of HEAD
git checkout sha256_hash Move the HEAD to the commit specified (WARNING: This results in a detached HEAD if a branch does not point to that commit)
git rebase -i HEAD~4 From where currently are, go back 4 commits and do rebasing in an interactive way
  • Remote

Command Description
git pull -r Same as git pull, but do rebasing
git revert HEAD~1 Move the remote branch 1 commit back

When production is on 🔥

Command Description
git diff HEAD~2 HEAD See the changes between the commit at the current pointer and 2 commits behind the pointer
git log –oneline See the message from each commit
git log -p -n 2 See the message from the last 2 commits(HEAD and HEAD~1) commit and the differences
git bisect start Find the first bad commit
git blame Show the last author who made changes on each line of a file
  • Caret
    • master^
      • the first parent of master(moves up by one)
  • ‘~’ operator
    • HEAD~2
      • 2 commits up from the HEAD

Advance knowledge



  • a git repository is just the folder “.git”
  • ignored files can be specified in the “.gitignore” file
  • git does not store the diff, but if make another copy of each object
    • storing the diff would mean that when you try to get the up to date version of a repo, all “n” commits would have to be computed while git only does O(1)
  • objects stored by git:
    • Blob(binary large objects) -> contains the data itself(source code,image,video etc)
    • Tree -> pointer to file names, other trees
    • Commit -> author, message, pointer to a tree
    • Tag


  • git add creates Blob objects
  • git commit creates Tree and Commit objects
  • see the content of an object :
> git show e7d8e73a
> git show --pretty-print=raw e7d8e73
  • see the content of a tree object:
> git ls-tree f9e2e3ed

Note: the whole hash is not needed, only the shortest unique identifier (usually 8 characters)

Where to practice?

Further reading