Renaming the 'master' branch

Daniel P. Berrangé berrange at
Wed Sep 30 13:12:18 UTC 2020

On Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 05:55:30PM +0200, Peter Krempa wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 17:33:15 +0200, Ján Tomko wrote:
> > According to latest fashion trends, it is possible
> > to rename the default branch.
> > 
> > Can we rename it to 'main'?
> > 
> > It's one less syllable and two letters shorter.
> We should do this only if it's possible to rename it in such a way that
> keeps old checkouts working. I don't want to fix all clones I have
> around and I don't want to fix my muscle memory.

At the core git level it is possible to configure aliases between refs,
so that someone requesting the "master" ref will get the "main" ref
instead. This cna be done both client and server side, though obviously
we'd really want it server side.

A while back I did find a bug against gitlab tracking support for this,
but I'm failing to find it again now, so unclear what the status of
rename support is in gitlab. We'd want to confirm they can do this
transparent back compat, just as github is planning.

In terms of choice of name, I'm in favour of renaming the master
branch, provided our newly chosen name is commonly accepted. Out of
all the suggestions I've seen put forward, it looks like "main" is
likely to become the defacto standard, especially since that is what
github have chosen.

IOW, I'm in favour of renaming master, likely to "main" assuming that
continues to grow as the new defacto standard, but we should validate
that gitlab has back compat which may need a little more wait.

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