What is the difference between git clone, git clone –bare and git clone –mirror?

The git clone, git clone --bare, and git clone --mirror commands in Git are used to create clones of a repository, but they have different purposes and create different types of clones. Here’s a breakdown of their differences:

1. git clone:

  • Purpose: The regular git clone command is used to create a copy of a repository with a working directory. It includes the complete history, branches, and files.
  • Usage: This is the most common way to clone a repository when you want to start working on a project or collaborate with others.
  • Command:
git clone <repository_url>

2. git clone --bare:

  • Purpose: The git clone --bare command creates a bare clone of the repository. A bare repository has no working directory, meaning it doesn’t include the actual project files. Instead, it only contains the .git directory with all the version control information, including the complete history, branches, and tags.
  • Usage: Bare repositories are typically used for server-side purposes, like centralized backups, creating mirrors for collaboration, and transferring repositories between servers.
  • Command:
git clone --bare <repository_url>

3. git clone --mirror:

  • Purpose: The git clone --mirror command also creates a bare clone of the repository, similar to git clone --bare. However, it goes one step further by setting up the cloned repository as a full mirror of the source repository. This means all refs (branches, tags, and remote branches) are copied exactly as they are in the source repository.
  • Usage: Mirroring is typically used for creating an exact copy of a repository, including all branches and tags, often for migration, backups, or maintaining a centralized repository that exactly matches the source repository.
  • Command:
git clone --mirror <repository_url>

In summary:

  • git clone: Creates a regular clone of the repository with a working directory, suitable for standard development and collaboration.
  • git clone --bare: Creates a bare clone of the repository without a working directory, used for server-side purposes like backups and mirrors.
  • git clone --mirror: Creates a bare clone that exactly mirrors the source repository, including all refs. It’s used for creating exact copies of repositories for specific purposes like migration or maintaining centralized mirrors.
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