rodarmor rodarmor - 1 month ago 24
Git Question

How to clone a single branch in git?

I have a local git repository called 'skeleton' that I use for storing project skeletons. It has a few branches, for different kinds of projects:

casey@agave [~/Projects/skeleton] git branch
* master

If I want to check out the master branch for a new project, I can do

casey@agave [~/Projects] git clone skeleton new
Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/casey/Projects/new/.git/

and everything is how I want it. Specifically, the new master branch points to skeleton master branch, and I can push and pull to move around changes to the basic project setup.

What doesn't work, however, is if I want to clone another branch. I can't get it so that I only pull the branch I want, for instance the rails branch, and then the new repo has a 'master' branch that pushes to and pulls from the skeleton repo's 'rails' branch, by default.

Is there a good way to go about doing this? Or, maybe this isn't the way that git wants me to structure things, and I'm certainly open to that. Perhaps I should have multiple repos, with the rails skeleton repo tracking the master skeleton repo? And any individual project cloning the rails skeleton repo.

Any thoughts and suggestions are appreciated!


Note: the git1.7.10 (April 2012) actually allows you to clone only one branch:

# clone only the remote primary HEAD (default: origin/master)
git clone --single-branch

as in:
git clone <url> --branch <branch> --single-branch [<folder>]

You can see it in

test_expect_success 'single branch clone' '
  git clone --single-branch "file://$(pwd)/." singlebranch

Tobu comments that:

This is implicit when doing a shallow clone.
This makes git clone --depth 1 the easiest way to save bandwidth.

And since Git 1.9.0 (February 2014), shallow clones support data transfer (push/pull), so that option is even more useful now.
See more at "Is git clone --depth 1 (shallow clone) more useful than it makes out?".

"Undoing" a shallow clone is detailed at "Convert shallow clone to full clone" (git 1.8.3+)

# unshallow the current branch
git fetch --unshallow

# for getting back all the branches (see Peter Cordes' comment)
git config remote.origin.fetch refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
git fetch --unshallow