Golo Roden Golo Roden - 1 month ago 5x
Git Question

Checkout a tag from a private GitHub repository

I need to clone a private repository from GitHub, but I only want to get a specific tag (so basically, cloning is actually the wrong term for it).

Now, the problem is that there are multiple options, and all of them don't really work out:

  • GitHub offers tagged versions as archives, but they are not accessible via
    (at least I could not figure out how).

  • GitHub does not support archiving repositories.

  • I could run a
    git clone
    and then run a
    git checkout
    to get to the version specified by the tag, but then I download more than I need, I am in detached head state, and all the remaining stuff stays on disk. Of course, I could clean this up manually, but … well, lots of work for a trivial task.

What is the best way to achieve what I want to do?


I think my question was not clear enough, hence I'm adding some more information: What I want is not only get to the revision marked by a tag, but I also want to remove the entire history. Basically, as if Git never existed, and all I ever had was this one single version of my code. Any hints?


I think you can do this with git clone --single-branch:

           Clone only the history leading to the tip of a single branch, either
           specified by the --branch option or the primary branch remote’s HEAD
           points at. When creating a shallow clone with the --depth option, this
           is the default, unless --no-single-branch is given to fetch the
           histories near the tips of all branches. Further fetches into the
           resulting repository will only update the remote-tracking branch for the
           branch this option was used for the initial cloning. If the HEAD at the
           remote did not point at any branch when --single-branch clone was made,
           no remote-tracking branch is created.

Note that this says you need a branch to be specified with --branch, rather than a tag. However, the documentation for --branch says:

       --branch , -b 
           Instead of pointing the newly created HEAD to the branch pointed to by
           the cloned repository’s HEAD, point to  branch instead. In a
           non-bare repository, this is the branch that will be checked out.
           --branch can also take tags and detaches the HEAD at that commit in the
           resulting repository.

The last sentence says you can use --branch with a tag. The only thing I'm not sure of is whether you can both use --single-branch and pass a tag to --branch. I guess you will have to try that to confirm. Alternatively, you will have to create a branch in the remote repository as opposed to a tag.


You now say you also want to destroy the entire history. Do this afterwards.

Two ways:

Living dangerously:

git clean -xdf  # Clean out everything not in git
rm -rf .git     # remove git
git init .      # put it back
git add .       # Add all the files
git commit -a -m "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind"

Living less dangerously

git rebase --root -i # needs recent version of git

then change every line to begin with s to squash into the original commit.

Also see Squash all Git commits into a single commit