Don't use GitHub to merge commits, suggests Torvalds

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Linux creator Linus Torvalds isn’t a fan of how GitHub’s web interface merges code, which he believes creates “absolutely useless garbage merges.” 

The commentary follows a pull request from Paragon Software who nudged Torvalds to include its driver code for the Windows NTFS filesystem into the 5.15 kernel.

“... I notice that you have a github merge commit in there. That's another of those things that I *really* don't want to see - github creates absolutely useless garbage merges, and you should never ever use the github interfaces to merge anything,” wrote Torvalds in response to Paragon’s pull request, before illustrating the shortcomings of making commits via GitHub’s web interface.

Torvalds is known to occasionally dish out such advice to fellow kernel developers, though he has toned down his tutelage of late.

Proper commitment

One of the shortcomings Torvalds highlighted are GitHub’s concise, factually correct, but functionally useless, commit messages. 

For instance, GitHub’s commit message for Paragon’s merge read “Merge branch 'torvalds:master' into master”, which didn’t impress Torvalds one bit. 

“github is a perfectly fine hosting site, and it does a number of other things well too, but merges is not one of those things,” Torvalds shared. 

He then went on to explain that he prefers kernel merges to be properly documented with details about what is being merged and why, along with proper and accurate details about the committer, which he believes isn’t one of the strongest suit of GitHub.

Although he let it slide this time, Torvalds suggests Paragon do future merges from the command-line.

“...for continued development you need to do things properly. That means doing merges from the command line, not using the entirely broken github web interface,” he concluded.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.