LFS on github (RFC)

Kevin Lyda kevin at ie.suberic.net
Sat Sep 24 07:30:16 PDT 2011

This mail is rather long.  It's so long that the tl;dr part is the
following four paragraphs.  My apologies, but it takes that much to
explain this.

I've used LFS from time to time for work at two different companies.
First as a quick way to a hermetic build environment and then as an
educational tool.  I would really like to contribute back.  However I
got distracted when I discovered subversion was still being used.  I'm
currently getting better with git and thought it might be an
interesting exercise to see how one ports a subversion repository to

So I did: https://github.com/lyda/Linux-From-Scratch

Now, let me say up front that this is a proof of concept and that it
is up to yourselves if you want to use it (or rather a clone of it - I
don't want the /lyda/ bit in that url...).  I can remove this from
github even faster than I put it up there (for the record it took
38.899 wall-clock seconds to push the full repo to github).  I can
continue to use my private repo for development and push out
commits/patches with git-svn.

However it might be of interest to learn how I did this in case you'd
like to do it yourselves and what further steps would be ideal to
complete the migration to git.  The rest of this email will be very
long and broken into the following sections: Stats, HOWTO, and Further

== Stats ==
Size of git repo with svn/trunk (master) checked out and all
branches/tags available: 30M (29M when checked out from github -
git-svn longs aren't there)
Size of svn repo with all branches/tags available: 283M
Size of svn repo with just svn/trunk checked out: 13M

I didn't time it, but it took several hours to git svn clone the LFS
svn repository.  It takes less than a minute to git clone the LFS git

== HOWTO ==

To grab what's on github just run:


Then add this to your .git/config:

[svn-remote "svn"]
        url = svn://svn.linuxfromscratch.org/LFS
        fetch = trunk:refs/remotes/svn/trunk
        branches = branches/*:refs/remotes/svn/*
        tags = tags/*:refs/remotes/svn/tags/*
        authorsfile = /some/path/authors-transform.txt

Contact me off-list for the authors-transform.txt file.  People get
cranky about email addresses posted on mailing lists.

Once you have that you can do a git svn fetch.  The first time it runs
it will take a long while to build all the bits git-svn needs (it will
be almost entirely local work).  On my machine it took 21 minutes and
was all local except for a quick check with the lfs subversion server
to see if there had been new commits.  As time goes on there will be
and there will be a bit more external work.

To build the git repo directly from subversion I did the following.
As I said, the git svn clone step takes a long, long time so it's
probably best to avoid it.  However there were some choices I made
that people might not agree with and might want to do differently.  I
discuss that with comments broken out with ------- within the scripts

# The following commands create the mapping between svn and git user names.
svn co svn://svn.linuxfromscratch.org/LFS lfs.svn
cd lfs.svn
svn log -q \
  | awk -F '|' \
        '/^r/ {sub("^ ", "", $2);sub(" $", "", $2);print $2" = "$2" <"$2">"}' \
  | sort -u > ../authors-transform.txt
# edit ../authors-transform.txt
#   Used http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/lfs/view/6.8/appendices/acknowledgements.html
#   and other acknowledgement files to find addresses.
#   Also used commands like:
#     awk '"jon" == $3 { print $1 }' ../svn.log|xargs -n1 svn log -r
#   to find log messages and then use that in a search.

There's really no other way to do this.  I'm happy to mail this file
to any developer that would want it.

# The following will clone the svn repo and keep the metadata used
# by git-svn.
git svn clone \
      -A authors-transform.txt \
      --stdlayout \
      --prefix=svn/ \
      svn://svn.linuxfromscratch.org/LFS/ lfs.git

Now there are many things here that one could do differently.

First, I could have used --no-metadata.  To explain what that is, it's
helpful to look at a commit in the LFS git repo.  Here's the current

commit 0e976ecfebf55dfc8f471394c46add3c73cce9c6
Author: Bruce Dubbs <bdubbs at linuxfromscratch.org>
Date:   Fri Sep 23 17:06:43 2011 +0000

    Allow variables in rc.site to override defaults

    git-svn-id: svn://svn.linuxfromscratch.org/LFS/trunk@9602

Note the git-svn-id thing tacked onto the end.  That was obviously not
in Bruce's original commit.  That's used by git-svn to rebuild it's
mapping of svn and git - it's why you can clone from github and git
svn fetch will work.

However if you were to decide to ditch subversion entirely, this
wouldn't really be required and --no-metadata will remove it.

The --prefix=svn/ isn't required either.  It prefixes all tags with
svn.  You might not want that.  Of course it's quite possible to to a
mass change of tags.  See below for one example of doing that.

Lastly this command might quit before completion due to a network
issue.  If it does, merely do the following:

git svn fetch

and it will continue on.  When it completes run:

git reset --hard

and that will set up your working directory.

# Copy the svnignore settings:
# TODO: Include cd command.
git svn show-ignore > .gitignore
git add .gitignore
git commit -m 'Convert svn:ignore properties to .gitignore.'

I did not do this, but it's simple to do.  Currently the .gitignore
file would contain:

# /BOOK/

# /BOOK/bootscripts/

# Convert svn tags from lightweight git branches to git tags.
# TODO: Is the ref correct here?  Shouldn't they be refs/svn/...?
git for-each-ref --format='%(refname)' refs/heads/tags |
cut -d / -f 4 |
while read ref
  git tag "$ref" "refs/heads/tags/$ref";
  git branch -D "tags/$ref";

I didn't do this either but it seems like a good thing to do.  I'm not
sure the script is right though.  I think it needs to use

# Push to github:
git remote add origin git at github.com:lyda/Linux-From-Scratch.git
# Move all the remotes/svn/* tags into svn/* in order to push them to github:
git for-each-ref --format='%(refname)' refs/remotes/svn \
  | sed s-refs/remotes/-- \
  | while read b; do
      git branch -t $b remotes/$b
# Tested with this command to make sure push would work:
git push -n -u --mirror origin
# It did so did real push:
time git push -u --mirror origin

== Future Work ==

I would really suggest that the developers to a re-import as I
describe above considering the options as I describe them.  I also
would suggest a clean cut-over.  Close down subversion and switch to
git on github (or gitorious - http://gitorious.org/).  The git hosts
have nice issue trackers and wikis (which is itself a git repository)
and has many of the tools you'd need.

Doing the git-svn thing to fetch and dcommit changes is fiddly and
prone to error and will not be a nice experience for people.  That
said, what I've pushed to github should be able to do that for people.

On the github side I think there are a number of useful tools you
might consider.  First you can make a README.md file that will display
on the opening page.  The discussion on lfs-chat about git workflow
would make a fantastic README.md file to ease concerns about using a
new VCS.  It is intimidating and I'm only just learning git.  Clear
instructions for common workflows would lower the barrier to

Speaking of barriers to entry, apparently github has subversion
support.  Not sure if it is wise, but information about it is here:
https://github.com/blog/644-subversion-write-support  I've never used
it and have no idea how well it works (or even if it still works!).

On the topic of development workflow/culture I don't think git
requires a dictator for life person (mentioned on the lfs-dev list).
With github you can have multiple committers to a tree.  Anyone can
clone it and you can then do pull requests which makes it easier to
send in contributions.  If someone's being a jerk, the non-jerks can
clone the tree and announce they're the non-jerk lfs tree!  This seems
easier than in the current system.

BTW, I have no connection to github, they're just who I've used so
far.  I'm guessing gitorious has similar features.

Lasty, the created tags and branches have some flaws.  Some tags and
branches were created multiple times and the conversion process
reflects that in an odd way.  For example:

  remotes/svn/6.1 at 4846
  remotes/svn/6.1 at 4851

The "real" 6.1 I suspect is remotes/svn/6.1 at 4851.  After importing
it's a simple matter of a few git branch commands to clean that up.
However I left the tree on github in its post-import state so people
could see what they get after importing.

Anyway, thanks if you read this far and hope the info here was useful.
 LFS has been an excellent tool for me at work.  You guys have done a
fantastic job.  If this is not desired I'm happy to remove it.  If
it's useful that's also great.  And if it's offensive/unwanted, please
accept my apologies in advance.


Kevin Lyda
Dublin, Ireland
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