Josef “Jeff” Sipek

git filter-branch

Recently, I had to rewrite some commits in a git repository. All I wanted to do was set the author and committer names and emails to the correct value for all the commits in a repository. (Have you ever accidentally committed with as the email address? I have.) It turns out that git has a handy command for that: git filter-branch. Unfortunately, using it is a bit challenging. Here’s what I ended up doing. (In case it isn’t clear, I am documenting what I have done in case I ever need to do it again on another repository.)

The invocation is relatively easy. We want to pass each commit to a script that creates a new commit with the proper name and email. This is done via the –commit-filter argument. Further, we want to rewrite each tag to point to the new commit hash. This is done via the –tag-filter argument. Since we’re not trying to change the contents of the tag, we use cat to simply pass through the tag contents.

$ git filter-branch \
        --commit-filter '/home/jeffpc/src/poc-clean/ "$@"' \
        --tag-name-filter cat \
        -- fmt4 load-all master
Rewrite a95e3603e5ec40e6f229e75425f1969f13c17820 (710/710)
Ref 'refs/heads/fmt4' was rewritten
Ref 'refs/heads/load-all' was rewritten
Ref 'refs/heads/master' was rewritten
v3.0 -> v3.0 (b56481e52236c8bd85e647c30bafad6ac651e3fb -> b53c5b3ae8e18de02e1067bada7a0f05d4bcd230)
v3.1 -> v3.1 (993683bf104f42a74a2c58f2a91aee561573f7cc -> 1a1f4ff657abc8e97879f68a5dc4add664980b71)
v3.2 -> v3.2 (090b3ff1a66fa82d7d8fc99976c42c9495d5a32f -> 60fbeb91b689c65217b5ea17e68983d6aebc0239)
v3.3 -> v3.3 (4fb6d3ac2c5b88e69129cefe92d08decb341e1ae -> dd75fbb92353021c2738da2848111b78d1684405)

Caution: git filter-branch changes the directory while it does all the work so don’t try to use relative paths to specify the script.

The commit filter script is rather simple:


name="Josef 'Jeff' Sipek"

export GIT_AUTHOR_NAME="$name"
export GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL="$email"
export GIT_COMMITTER_NAME="$name"
export GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL="$email"

exec git commit-tree "$@"

It just sets the right environmental variables to pass the right name and email to git commit-tree, which writes out the commit object.

That’s it! I hope this helps.


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