Git Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Fetching changes from a remote repository


Git Essential Training

with Kevin Skoglund

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Video: Fetching changes from a remote repository

In this movie we're going to learn how to fetch changes from a remote repository. In the last movie we made some new changes in our explore_california repository, and we pushed those changes up to GitHub, but when we switched over to the Lynda repository to take a look at what Lynda would see, we don't see those changes there; git log --oneline, let's just do -5. Oops! --oneline needs an e in it, and you can see that it's not there, and it doesn't matter if we're on master or if we ask it for origin/master.
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  1. 2m 46s
    1. Introduction
      1m 7s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      1m 39s
  2. 19m 44s
    1. Understanding version control
      4m 8s
    2. The history of Git
      7m 58s
    3. About distributed version control
      5m 4s
    4. Who should use Git?
      2m 34s
  3. 26m 12s
    1. Installing Git on a Mac
      3m 44s
    2. Installing Git on Windows
      5m 37s
    3. Installing Git on Linux
      1m 30s
    4. Configuring Git
      7m 29s
    5. Exploring Git auto-completion
      5m 35s
    6. Using Git help
      2m 17s
  4. 15m 49s
    1. Initializing a repository
      1m 58s
    2. Understanding where Git files are stored
      2m 34s
    3. Performing your first commit
      2m 4s
    4. Writing commit messages
      5m 22s
    5. Viewing the commit log
      3m 51s
  5. 17m 44s
    1. Exploring the three-trees architecture
      3m 57s
    2. The Git workflow
      3m 15s
    3. Using hash values (SHA-1)
      4m 7s
    4. Working with the HEAD pointer
      6m 25s
  6. 25m 52s
    1. Adding files
      5m 59s
    2. Editing files
      3m 56s
    3. Viewing changes with diff
      3m 35s
    4. Viewing only staged changes
      2m 28s
    5. Deleting files
      5m 29s
    6. Moving and renaming files
      4m 25s
  7. 19m 18s
    1. Introducing the Explore California web site
      2m 2s
    2. Initializing Git
      3m 48s
    3. Editing the support phone number
      6m 20s
    4. Editing the backpack file name and links
      7m 8s
  8. 38m 45s
    1. Undoing working directory changes
      3m 49s
    2. Unstaging files
      2m 37s
    3. Amending commits
      4m 50s
    4. Retrieving old versions
      4m 7s
    5. Reverting a commit
      3m 12s
    6. Using reset to undo commits
      3m 44s
    7. Demonstrating a soft reset
      4m 8s
    8. Demonstrating a mixed reset
      4m 7s
    9. Demonstrating a hard reset
      5m 8s
    10. Removing untracked files
      3m 3s
  9. 27m 22s
    1. Using .gitignore files
      8m 23s
    2. Understanding what to ignore
      4m 47s
    3. Ignoring files globally
      4m 49s
    4. Ignoring tracked files
      5m 26s
    5. Tracking empty directories
      3m 57s
  10. 26m 51s
    1. Referencing commits
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring tree listings
      3m 46s
    3. Getting more from the commit log
      7m 38s
    4. Viewing commits
      4m 4s
    5. Comparing commits
      6m 31s
  11. 39m 35s
    1. Branching overview
      4m 56s
    2. Viewing and creating branches
      2m 57s
    3. Switching branches
      2m 58s
    4. Creating and switching branches
      4m 53s
    5. Switching branches with uncommitted changes
      3m 26s
    6. Comparing branches
      4m 28s
    7. Renaming branches
      2m 28s
    8. Deleting branches
      4m 18s
    9. Configuring the command prompt to show the branch
      9m 11s
  12. 28m 32s
    1. Merging code
      3m 11s
    2. Using fast-forward merge vs. true merge
      6m 49s
    3. Merging conflicts
      7m 26s
    4. Resolving merge conflicts
      7m 5s
    5. Exploring strategies to reduce merge conflicts
      4m 1s
  13. 14m 34s
    1. Saving changes in the stash
      4m 5s
    2. Viewing stashed changes
      2m 39s
    3. Retrieving stashed changes
      4m 24s
    4. Deleting stashed changes
      3m 26s
  14. 1h 5m
    1. Using local and remote repositories
      6m 38s
    2. Setting up a GitHub account
      5m 39s
    3. Adding a remote repository
      4m 0s
    4. Creating a remote branch
      4m 3s
    5. Cloning a remote repository
      4m 26s
    6. Tracking remote branches
      4m 5s
    7. Pushing changes to a remote repository
      5m 8s
    8. Fetching changes from a remote repository
      5m 47s
    9. Merging in fetched changes
      4m 50s
    10. Checking out remote branches
      3m 22s
    11. Pushing to an updated remote branch
      2m 6s
    12. Deleting a remote branch
      3m 8s
    13. Enabling collaboration
      3m 40s
    14. A collaboration workflow
      8m 43s
  15. 16m 23s
    1. Setting up aliases for common commands
      5m 14s
    2. Using SSH keys for remote login
      2m 56s
    3. Exploring integrated development environments
      1m 4s
    4. Exploring graphical user interfaces
      4m 32s
    5. Understanding Git hosting
      2m 37s
  16. 55s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Git Essential Training
6h 26m Beginner Aug 24, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The course shows how to use Git, the popular open-source version control software, to manage changes to source code and text files. Using a step-by-step approach, author Kevin Skoglund presents the commands that enable efficient code management and reveals the fundamental concepts behind version control systems and the Git architecture. Discover how to track changes to files in a repository, review previous edits, and compare versions of a file; create branches to test new ideas without altering the main project; and merge those changes into the project if they work out. The course begins by demonstrating version control in a single-user, standalone context, before exploring how remote repositories allow users to collaborate on projects effectively.

Topics include:
  • Exploring the history of version control
  • Installing Git on Mac, Windows, and Linux
  • Initializing a repository
  • Writing useful commit messages
  • Understanding the Git three-tree architecture
  • Tracking when files are added, edited, deleted, or moved
  • Viewing change sets and comparing versions
  • Undoing changes and rolling back to previous versions
  • Ignoring changes to select files
  • Creating and working with code branches
  • Merging branches and resolving merge conflicts
  • Stashing changes for later
  • Working with hosted repositories and remote branches
  • Developing an effective collaboration workflow
Git GitHub
Kevin Skoglund

Fetching changes from a remote repository

In this movie we're going to learn how to fetch changes from a remote repository. In the last movie we made some new changes in our explore_california repository, and we pushed those changes up to GitHub, but when we switched over to the Lynda repository to take a look at what Lynda would see, we don't see those changes there; git log --oneline, let's just do -5. Oops! --oneline needs an e in it, and you can see that it's not there, and it doesn't matter if we're on master or if we ask it for origin/master.

Same thing, it doesn't exist in master, and it doesn't exist in origin/master. Also let's notice that if we ask for git branch, we only have our master branch. If we ask it for a list of the remote branches it comes up, and it just says that we have master there as well. Remember we pushed up another branch as well, we pushed up the non_tracking branch. So there is both a new branch and a new commit on GitHub that Lynda can't see yet. Why is that? Well, it's because Lynda needs to do a fetch. Remember a fetch is what synchronizes origin/ master with whatever is on the remote repository.

Origin/master doesn't automatically reflect what's on the remote repository, we have to tell Git that we want it to do a sync between the two. When I did this line here where I looked at the log of origin/master, that doesn't actually go out to GitHub to see what the log file is there. It's looking at the local copy that Lynda has in a repository from the last time that she synced up, the last time that she did a fetch, which was when she originally cloned to this repository. So this git log command can actually be done when we're away from a network connection.

We don't have to have access to GitHub to find out information about origin/master. We won't get the latest information, we'll get the latest thing that we synced up the last time that we downloaded it. But when we do a git fetch, it does go out to GitHub and pulls down information, and we do need to have an Internet connection in order to do that. So let's try that now. The command is git fetch, and then we can provide the name of what we wanted to fetch, we want it to go to origin, which in our case is GitHub, so git fetch origin, and bring everything back.

Because we only have one remote repository, we can just abbreviate it as git fetch. So you don't have to type it all out, you can just simply say git fetch, and it will know that you mean to fetch from the one and only remote repository that you have. So let's try that now and see what happens. So you can see it counted the objects we don't have, there's five of them, decompress them, brought them down, and here they are. This is the range of commit numbers. You can see this f3a370e is the commit that we were looking for, that's the one that wasn't there, and it found the new branch, right.

This new branch non_tracking, it brought non_tracking from the remote non_tracking into origin/non_tracking. Now if I say git log --oneline -5 origin/master, now look at that, we see the change because now we've done a sync. Now origin/master is in sync with what is on the remote, so it has all the same commits that are there, all those same git objects have been brought down to our machine.

And if we do git branch we can see we still only have one branch, the git branch -r now knows about the non_tracking branch. We downloaded information about that. So whenever we do git fetch it's synchronizing with the remote repo, and that means it pulls down any Git objects we don't have, and it pulls down bookmarks that reference the tips of each of the branches that are on the remote. Now if we look at the log for just master, not origin/master, but just our master branch, you can see that that commit is still not there.

I didn't bring it all the way into our master branch, that's ours to manage, right? It just brought it into the origin/master, which is going to try and always be a perfect sync with what's on the remote repository. It's just our local cached version of the remote repo. So that's an important point, when we synchronize with remote repository using fetch, we just update origin/master. Master doesn't change at all. If we're in the middle of working on something, and we've got some edits in our working directory, those aren't affected. If we've made some commits over the last hour, those aren't affected.

It has nothing to do with any of our non-remote branches whatsoever. A fetch is not harmful in any way at all, and because of that there is absolutely no reason not to fetch often. In fact, I want to give you three basic guidelines that you should try and follow. The first is always fetch before you work. The very first thing in the morning that you should do when you sit down at your computer is do a fetch. Find out what's on the remote repository, what commits were made over a night by your collaborators. Get those all down onto your computer, and then you can decide what to do with them from there.

The second is fetch before you push. You've got your commits, you've made them, they're not on the remote repository, before you push them up there find out what else is on the remote repository. Maybe someone else already pushed the similar commit or maybe they pushed something that's going to conflict with what you're about to push. Go ahead and get those changes downloaded so that you know about them before you start putting new stuff on there. And then the last one is just to fetch often. It's not destructive, so there is no reason not to do it often, and you certainly want to do it anytime you're about to leave a network connection. If you're going to go take your laptop to work in the park or you're about to get on an airplane, you want to do a fetch to make sure that your repository is in sync with what's on the remote.

Now because it doesn't automatically bring those changes into our master branch, if we want them there, then we're going to have to put them there ourselves by doing a merge, and we'll do that next.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Git Essential Training .

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Q: In the Chapter 10 movie "Configuring the command prompt to show the branch," when I type the function "__git_ps1," I do not get the expected result.
A: The function "__git_ps1" was recently moved to a new file,, as described here:

We will update the video. In the meantime, you may do the same steps you do for .git-completion.bash, but a second time using "" as shown here:
Q: When I use the code the instructor advises in the above video ("git config
--global "Nelda Street"), I still get an "Illegal Instruction"
error. I have OS 10.6.8. Am I doing something wrong?
A: The current installer version of git isn't compatible with older Mac OS versions.
The workaround solutions people offer are:
1. To add "-mmacosx-version-min=10.6" as described here:
2. Or to use the version of git that comes with Xcode, or to use homebrew to install git instead.
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