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Git Submodules

When a project stored in Git depends on another project stored in Git.


The current working directory for this example is set to RTC embedded OS repository on my machine:

olliefr@GREY-TOWER MINGW64 /c/Local/rtc (master)

The RTC embedded OS is built on TI StarterWare no-OS platform support package. The package is unlikely to change a lot, so the workflow for a third party library from gitsubmodules(7) documentation is followed.

$ git submodule add starterware
The following paths are ignored by one of your .gitignore files:
hint: Use -f if you really want to add them.
hint: Turn this message off by running
hint: "git config advice.addIgnoredFile false"

Oops, it appears that the destination folder was previously placed on the ignore list, probably to cope with it containing another Git repository. Remove it from the .gitignore list for the project. The project now looks like the following.

$ git diff
diff --git a/.gitignore b/.gitignore
index f39898a..6ae2fd4 100644
--- a/.gitignore
+++ b/.gitignore
@@ -36,8 +36,5 @@ binary/*
 # Data files

-# Starterware
 # Matlab temporary files for rig interfaces

Try again to include the platform files repository as a Git submodule.

$ git submodule add starterware
Cloning into 'C:/Local/rtc/starterware'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 1747, done.
remote: Total 1747 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 1747 eceiving objects:  97% (1695/1
Receiving objects: 100% (1747/1747), 10.74 MiB | 7.20 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (623/623), done.

Check the outcome.

$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/master'.

Changes to be committed:
  (use "git restore --staged <file>..." to unstage)
        new file:   .gitmodules
        new file:   starterware

Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git restore <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
        modified:   .gitignore

Success!!! Note, that .gitmodules is version-controlled with your other files, like your .gitignore file. It’s pushed and pulled with the rest of your project. This is how other people who clone this project know where to get the submodule projects from.

Prepare the commit.

$ git add .gitignore
$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/master'.

Changes to be committed:
  (use "git restore --staged <file>..." to unstage)
        modified:   .gitignore
        new file:   .gitmodules
        new file:   starterware

Commit and push.

$ git commit -m "Adds a Git submodule for TI StarterWare platform support package"
[master 07e93a6] Adds a Git submodule for TI StarterWare platform support package
 3 files changed, 4 insertions(+), 3 deletions(-)
 create mode 100644 .gitmodules
 create mode 160000 starterware
$ git push
Enumerating objects: 6, done.
Counting objects: 100% (6/6), done.
Delta compression using up to 12 threads
Compressing objects: 100% (4/4), done.
Writing objects: 100% (4/4), 514 bytes | 514.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 4 (delta 2), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (2/2), completed with 2 local objects.
   4999f8e..07e93a6  master -> master

The master project repository and the remote origin have now been updated.


To clone the master project, including the submodules, use --recurse-submodules parameter.

$ git clone --recurse-submodules rtc

If you already cloned the project and forgot to recurse submodules, you still can clone the submodules with a one-liner.

$ git submodule update --init

To print a list of submodules in the parent repository, use git submodule status


— Oliver Frolovs, 2020