I just watched Linus Torvalds talking about git, the distributed version control system he wrote.

What struck me here is that several times in this talk he was asked by Google employees variations on the theme of “why should we use git?”, and he didn’t have a compelling answer. His statements boiled down to “we have an alternative way of visualizing branches, and subtly different workflows”.

Many of his “git is awesome” points were rooted in specific objections to CVS. In particular, the complaints about branching and merging, and finding changes to a particular subset of a repository. I’m not saying git isn’t good at these things, I just think he should be comparing to SVN, which enables less cheap shots.

None of this is to imply that I don’t like git. I’ve been playing with it recently, and it seems impressive. I can’t say that its distributed nature feels very essential to me – but then, I’m not a member of a massive pseudo-anarchistic project like the Linux kernel. I suspect that until you hit some critical mass of independent developers on a project, git and SVN are fundamentally interchangeable.

The things that have actually made me go “ooh” about git thus far are offline commits, and content-tracking across files.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *