Docs Project work using git

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The Documentation Project produces documentation written in DocBook XML. Earlier documentation used a CVS instance for collaboration. The DocBook XML files are now maintained in git repositories, which provide better features and future proofing. DocBook XML documentation can be built into HTML and other formats for use on the Web and in Fedora itself.

You can help maintain content on the wiki, but it is also helpful to know how to make changes in this repository as well. The following guide will show you, step by step, how to do that.


Setting Up

Install packages
You must install the git-all and publican-fedora packages to use this project. For some older systems like RHEL or CentOS 5, you may need to use git instead of git-all.

Install the git-all and publican-fedora packages with yum:

su -c 'yum install git-all publican-fedora'

Create your global git configuration:

git config --global 'John Doe'
git config --global ''
git config --global color.diff auto
git config --global color.status auto
git config --global color.branch auto

Getting a Copy of the Files

To get a copy of a module, in this example the install-guide project for the source of the Fedora Installation Guide:

mkdir projects
cd projects
git clone git://

A copy of the files from this repository are now in the install-guide directory in your current working directory.

Locally or remotely writable
The git command above produces a repository where you can make changes locally, but not back at the remote source (origin). If you're a user of this repository authorized to write changes, use ssh:// instead of git:// in the git clone command above.

Using the Right Branch

We use git branches to separate releases of any guides that are tied to specific Fedora releases. For instance, the Installation Guide has multiple active versions at any one time. Right now, those versions are 24, 25, and 26. (Releases for Fedora 26 will be on the main or "master" branch.)

To see all the available branches from the origin, do this:

git branch -r

You'll see a list that may look like this:


Before you start working, make sure you are on the proper branch (f24, f25, or master) using one of these commands:

cd install-guide
git checkout -b <branch> --track <originbranch>

So if you want to work on the f25 branch, use this command:

git checkout -b f25 --track origin/f25

Making Changes

Make a personal branch

The git application uses branches in a novel way, to allow you to keep your work separated from the files that you just retrieved. You should always make a branch of the files and do your work there. Then after you've done appropriate testing, you can merge those changes into the branch you retrieved and send them to the maintainers via email, or (if you have access) push them back to the repository here.

First, make a branch called "mywork" and move onto it to do your actual work:

cd install-guide
git checkout -b mywork

(Note this doesn't retrieve files, it puts you on the new mywork branch you created. To check that you've moved branches, you can use the git branch command again:

git branch

Make changes

Now make a desired change. Remember that you don't want to make a bunch of changes at one time -- make one meaningful change (like cleaning up one file, or cleaning up one issue that happens in a number of files) at a time.

To check the status of your branch (how it differs from the last recorded change), run the git status command. If you need to delete files, use the git rm command. To rename or relocate a file, use the git mv command.

Once you have finished with all the changes, DOUBLE CHECK THEM! Don't go any further until the changes you made to the Release Notes produce a fully working document. Run a validation test to check (this example is using the original "en-US" language):

publican build --formats=xml --langs=en-US

Stage the changes

The git add command tells git that it should stage specific changes you make. Staged changes are the changes that will be recorded in the next commit. You can stage changes from more than one file at a time, but you should make sure these changes are related. Don't stage changes together that have nothing to do with each other. It's OK to make several commits, and usually a better idea to do so if you're unsure.

git add en-US/my-changed-file1 en-US/my-changed-file2

Commit the changes

Once you're ready to commit your changes, use the git commit command.

git commit -a -m 'Some short message about the commit'

The commit goes to your local branch, not back up to the server as in some other version control systems.

Sending changes if you're not authorized

If everything works, you can email your changes back to the maintainers even if you're not authorized to write to the repository:

git-format-patch -o /tmp/mywork origin

This puts a series of patch files in the new directory /tmp/mywork. Then you can email those patch files to the maintainers.

Merging and pushing if you're authorized

Test before pushing!

If you mistakenly used git:// for cloning instead of ssh://, you can fix that by editing the .git/config file before pushing. Look for the "origin" section and edit the URL, replacing git:// with ssh://.

From the author
These procedures are very basic and some usage may differ from project to project. Check with the project owner if you have any doubts, or just send email instead. Refer to #Sending changes if you're not authorized for more information.


Switch from your private branch to the branch you are working in, most likely master

git checkout master

Merge the changes from your private branch (named 'mywork' in this case) to master:

git merge mywork


You should be able to push your changes to the remote repository by running:

git push

Other References