Surviving Windows

git on Windows

git can work tolerably well on Windows these days. It even comes with bash and vim! (Because really, you can't use git on Windows without pretending it's UNIX...)

There are problems though.


Windows doesn't have UNIX file modes. MSYS (which Git for Windows uses) and Cygwin get around this in incompatible ways, which can create major headaches.

Note: It's best to use either MSYS-git or Cygwin's git, but not both. Actually, use the standard MSYS-git! Cygwin makes things too complicated.

Sometimes, something makes git want to mess up file modes for no good reason. Constant vigilance! If this happens, it can be fixed:

git update-index --chmod=-x <file> # or similar

As git's simulated file modes are somewhat buggy and thoroughly useless, it might be best to just disable the whole thing:

git config core.filemode false

This and more found on stackoverflow.


Classic pain in the arse. Normally it doesn't matter that much: most software on most platforms can handle any type of line ending just fine. However:

If you want UNIX #! lines to work, make sure your scripts use life feeds ONLY!

The classic configuration flag is:

git config --global core.autocrlf true

The can be set on a per-repository basis. For particular file types, it can also be enforced in .gitattributes, for example:

$ cat .gitattributes
*.py text eol=lf
*.m text eol=lf
*.mat binary

Adding a .gitattributes file is probably always a good idea when Windows is involved anywhere nearby, actually.

More details can be found in the docs.

Mapped network drives

Cloning a repository on a mapped network drive the usual way may not work (God knows why). The solution (apparently) is to clone from a file://X:/Y/Z URL to a local path. Par exemple,

$ git clone pump_probe/ pump_probe2
Cloning into 'pump_probe2'...
error: internal error: refs/remotes/origin/master is not a valid packed reference!
fatal: update_ref failed for ref 'HEAD': cannot update the ref 'HEAD': Trying to write ref refs/heads/master with nonexistent object 05f2ce3c7bfa9c764659c426fd58a5f15e1e2033
fatal: The remote end hung up unexpectedly

fails while

$ git clone file://P:/code/py/pump_probe pump_probe2
Cloning into 'pump_probe2'...
remote: Counting objects: 61, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (60/60), done.
remote: Total 61 (delta 19), reused 0 (delta 0)
Receiving objects: 100% (61/61), 5.47 MiB | 7.76 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (19/19), done.
Checking connectivity... done.
Checking out files: 100% (28/28), done.


What a bizarre world. Solution found in the MSYSgit forum.