Git Merge. You are in the middle of a merge. Cannot Amend.

Let’s say I made changes to branch “abc”, committed and pushed them.  This fired a build and a code-review after which the code is ready to be merged. But before these changes are merged, another party merged changes from a branch “xyz” into “abc”.

How do I replay my changes on top of changes from “xyz” in “abc” ? Here’s a seemingly obvious command to try:

$ git pull origin abc // tldr don't do this. try git pull --rebase
Auto-merging file1
CONFLICT (content): Merge conflict in file1
Automatic merge failed; fix conflicts and then commit the result.

At this point, I resolve the commits and attempt a git commit –amend. But this gives an error.

$ git commit --amend
fatal: You are in the middle of a merge -- cannot amend.
$ git rebase 
First, rewinding head to replay your work on top of it...
Applying: change name
Using index info to reconstruct a base tree...
M file1
Falling back to patching base and 3-way merge...
Auto-merging file1
CONFLICT (content):

The problem is the pull step, which implicitly does a fetch+merge and where the merge fails. (check git –help pull).

To recover from this do, squash the unnecessary merge and do a rebase.

$ git reset --merge 
$ git rebase
First, rewinding head to replay your work on top of it..

This shows a list of conflicting files. Find the conflicting files and edit them to resolve conflicts.

$ git rebase --continue
file: needs merge
You must edit all merge conflicts and then
mark them as resolved using git add

$ git add file1 file2
$ git rebase --continue
Applying: change name
$ git commit --amend
$ git push origin HEAD:refs/for/abc

Here’s the git rebase doc for reference. The rebase command is composed of multiple cherry-pick commands. Cherry-pick is a change-parent operation and changes commit-id = hash(parent-commit-id + changes). Here it re-chains my commit on top of a different commit than the one I started with. The commit –amend would not have changed the commit-id, and so it would not change the parent, so it fails.

Git merge is an operation to merge two different branches. It is the opposite of git branch, which creates a branch. In the above example we are applying our local changes to the same branch, which has undergone some changes since our last fetch.

Another error sometimes seen during a cherry-pick is the “fatal: You are in the middle of a cherry-pick — cannot amend”.  This happens on a “git commit –amend”  and here it expects you to do a plain “git commit” to first complete the cherry-pick operation.

A git commit references the current set of changes and the parent commit. A git merge references two parent commits. A git merge may involve a new commit if the two parents have diverged and conflicts need to be resolved.

Some idempotent (safe) and useful git commands.

$ git reflog [--date=iso]  # show history of local commits to index
$ git show  # or git show commit-hash, git show HEAD^^
$ git diff [ --word-diff | --color-diff ]
$ git status # shows files staged for commit (added via git add to the index). different from git diff
$ git branch [-a]
$ git tag -l   # list all tags 
$ git describe # most recent tag reachable from current commit
$ git config --list
$ git remote -v # git remote is a repo that contains the same proj 
$ git fetch --dry-run 
$ git log --decorate --graph --abbrev-commit --date=relative --author=username
$ git log --decorate --pretty="format:%C(yellow)%h%C(green)%d%Creset %s -> %C(green)%an%C(blue), %C(red)%ar%Creset"
$ git log -g --abrev-commit --pretty=online 'HEAD@{now}'
$ git grep login -- "*yml"
$ tig    # use d, t, g to change views; use / to search
$ git fsck [--unreachable]
$ git verify-pack -v .git/objects/pack/pack-*.idx | grep -v chain | sort -k3nr | head  # list of largest files
$ git cat-file -p <hash> # view object - tree/commit/blob
$ git clean -xdn

Difference between ‘origin’ and ‘upstream’ terms is explained here. An interactive git cheat sheet is here. There is only one origin, the one you cloned your repo from, there can be many remotes, which are copies of your project.

Update sequence: working_directory -> index -> commit -> remote

Some terms defined:

origin = main remote repository

master = default (master/main) branch on the remote repository

HEAD = current revision

git uses the SHA-1 cryptographic hash function for content-addressing individual files (blobs) and directories (trees)  as well as commits – which track changes to the entire tree. Since each tree is a SHA-1 hash over the SHA-1 hashes of the files it contains, the SHA-1 change of a child that is n-levels deep, propagates to the root of the tree.

The index used in ‘git add’ is under .git/index . It can be viewed with

$ git ls-files --stage --abbrev --full-name --debug

This does not store the file contents, just their paths. The content for a new commit is stored under .git/objects/<xy>/<z>    where xy is the first two digits of the hash and z is the rest of 40 char hash.  If you do a fresh checkout the .git/object is empty except for the .git/objects/pack directory which stores the entire commit history in compressed form in a .pack file and a .idx index file. An mmap is done on these files for fast searching.

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