Use Git and Subversion Together

I like this short explanation from Learn.Github:

Cloning a Subversion Repository

The first step is to actually clone a Subversion repository using Git. This is accomplished by executing the ‘git svn clone’:

$ git svn clone <subversion-url> ?optional-directory-name?

For example,

$ git svn clone file:///Users/blair/git-svn/SVNROOT git_repo
Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/blair/git-svn/git_repo/.git/
r1 = e1e2a18c6537614f2bebc5c0dfb4ac6f8c829a3b (git-svn)
	A	file1.c
	A	Makefile
r2 = 58e044c16678b0a8b92e4dbed8f0a69d48ba9ec1 (git-svn)
Checked out HEAD:
  file:///Users/blair/git-svn/SVNROOT/trunk r2

As you can see, this creates a new Git repository in the directory named ‘MyGitRepository’, populates the Git history with all Subversion commits to the trunk, and checks out the latest HEAD.

Note that this operation will generally take longer than a corresponding ‘git clone’ command, as the entire history for the Subversion repository in question must be downloaded commit by commit. For large projects, this process can take hours. Thus it’s best to execute this command only when you have some time to kill.

Synchronizing With Upstream

When using Subversion, you synchronize with upstream changes by running ‘svn update’, which pulls down all of the changes made to your Subversion branch and merges your working copy with those changes.

With git-svn, you accomplish a similar task via the ‘git svn rebase’ command.

bucky:git_repo blair$ git svn rebase
	M	Makefile
r3 = ae409c2f5fe0831f22d6dc891652b5f9159f35de (git-svn)
First, rewinding head to replay your work on top of it...
Applying: Local git commit.

So what does this tell us? Well, first, you see a list of modified files. The next line informs us that revision 3 from Subversion is being stored as commit ae409c2 in our local Git repository. No problems thus far. But, what about that line informing us Git is rewinding and replaying our work? Well, this is where ‘svn update’ and ‘git svn rebase’ differ slightly.

Remember that, with a Subversion repository, you don’t have the concept of offline commits. So when ‘svn update’ executes, all it does is pull down all of the commits from the Subversion repository, and replay the changes in your working copy.

Under Git, you’ve likely been making a series of changes and committing them in nice small pieces (you are making regular commits, aren’t you?). So, when ‘git svn rebase’ is executed, it rolls back all of your local commits, pulls down all of the commits from Subversion, and then reapplies your local commits as if you had made them on the current HEAD of the Subversion branch. This has much the same logical effect as ‘svn update’ (all of your local changes are applied on top of the current Subversion HEAD), but may appear a little odd at first glance.

Just like ‘svn update’, it’s a good idea to execute ‘git svn rebase’ periodically in order to limit the number of conflicts you encounter when it comes time to integrate your changes back into the main repository.

Pushing Changes Upstream

So you’ve been hacking away in your Git repository and now have a series of local commits that need to be pushed back to the main Subversion repository. The first step is to execute ‘git svn rebase’ and make sure your local Git repository is up-to-date with the Subversion repository. Next, use the command ‘git svn dcommit’ to push all of your local Git commits back to the Subversion repository.

bucky:git_repo blair$ git svn dcommit
Committing to file:///Users/blair/git-svn/SVNROOT/trunk ...
	M	file1.c
Committed r4
	M	file1.c
r4 = 31a4b40b05e1b42f34dd22c34936f43dd5be90ec (git-svn)
No changes between current HEAD and refs/remotes/git-svn
Resetting to the latest refs/remotes/git-svn

Now all of your local Git commits are present in the Subversion repository and you can continue hacking away locally.

Rules and Guidelines

There are a few rules you should follow when using Git as a Subversion client. Many of these are due to the fact that Git is a much more capable system than Subversion and some of the Git features simply do not work in Subversion.

  • Do not dcommit Git merge commits to the Subversion repository. Subversion doesn’t handle merges in the same way as Git, and this will cause problems. This means you should keep your Git development history linear (i.e., no merging from other branches, just rebasing).
  • Do not amend, reorder, or otherwise change commits that have been dcommited to Subversion. This is essentially the same rule as not changing Git commits that have been pushed to public repositories. Subversion cannot handle modifying or reordering commits.