Open-sourcers get with the git

Sucking from the teat of Linus

There was a time when the Linux community used BitKeeper as its source code control system, after switching from the open-source CVS. But then Samba developer Andrew Tridgell figured out you could telnet to a BitKeeper server, type "HELP," and get a list of commands. Upon hearing of Tridgell's daring hack, BitMover - the company that maintains BitKeeper - got all license-revokey on the community, changing the terms of the agreement and demanding that Linux developers start paying for its software.

There were other free source control systems available, and the popular one was Subversion, which was billed by its creators as "CVS done right." If you've never used CVS, the dark humor in that statement is that it doesn't make sense. Labeling something "CVS done right" is about the same as labeling something "a urinary tract infection done right.” Many developers, Linus included, find CVS and the like completely unacceptable.

Now, the Legend of Linus is part truth and part mythology. Nobody really knows where the facts end and the tall stories begin. But one common theme in all of them is that Linus has the power of many men. While that multiple is up for debate, the editorial staff here at The Reg has decreed that Linus has the power of ten. It's a conservative estimate, but it keeps our fact checkers happy.

With the power of ten men, Linus reacted swiftly. Rather than cry about it like a little bitch, he created his own source control system called git. In a self-deprecating style that only a developer on Linus's level could pull off, Linus said, "I'm an egotistical bastard, and I name all my projects after myself. First Linux, now git.”

(We Americans don't really get the joke, because while “git” is British slang for a worthless person, we have come to acknowledge the fundamental law of British insults: don't be insulting).

Git, which works very differently from other source control systems like CVS and Subversion, took the freetard world by storm when it came out. Many enterprise developers just saw git's popularity as open source programmers suckling from the teat of Linus, but it kept growing. Programmers started to use git for their side projects and got hooked.

Git is gaining traction because given all other source control systems out there, git is the superior technology. One of the most compelling features is the cheap, local branching. With git, it's very easy to branch your entire codebase, try out some new feature or development path, and either merge it to the main branch or cast it aside like an unwanted child.

Plus, since git doesn't need to run from a central server, nobody will be able to look at your branch commit logs and see the atrocities you've committed. It's only when you're sure your code is ready for public consumption do you push your local repository to the remote one, so that other developers can admire the code you've written.

Developers will almost always select the best technology, and management must be dragged along kicking and screaming. It's no surprise that while git is making some headway in the enterprise, sometimes it's very under-the-radar and slow going.

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