git‐pack‐objects − Create a packed archive of objects

git pack−objects [−q | −−progress | −−all−progress] [−−all−progress−implied]
        [−−no−reuse−delta] [−−delta−base−offset] [−−non−empty]
        [−−local] [−−incremental] [−−window=<n>] [−−depth=<n>]
        [−−revs [−−unpacked | −−all]] [−−keep−pack=<pack−name>]
        [−−stdout [−−filter=<filter−spec>] | base−name]
        [−−shallow] [−−keep−true−parents] [−−[no−]sparse] < object−list

Reads list of objects from the standard input, and writes
either one or more packed archives with the specified
base−name to disk, or a packed archive to the standard

A packed archive is an efficient way to transfer a set of
objects between two repositories as well as an access
efficient archival format. In a packed archive, an object is
either stored as a compressed whole or as a difference from
some other object. The latter is often called a delta.

The packed archive format (.pack) is designed to be
self−contained so that it can be unpacked without any
further information. Therefore, each object that a delta
depends upon must be present within the pack.

A pack index file (.idx) is generated for fast, random
access to the objects in the pack. Placing both the index
file (.idx) and the packed archive (.pack) in the pack/
subdirectory of $GIT_OBJECT_DIRECTORY (or any of the
Git to read from the pack archive.

The git unpack−objects command can read the packed archive
and expand the objects contained in the pack into "one−file
one−object" format; this is typically done by the smart−pull
commands when a pack is created on−the−fly for efficient
network transport by their peers.

     Write into pairs of files (.pack and .idx), using
     <base−name> to determine the name of the created file.
     When this option is used, the two files in a pair are
     written in <base−name>−<SHA−1>.{pack,idx} files.
     <SHA−1> is a hash based on the pack content and is
     written to the standard output of the command.


     Write the pack contents (what would have been written
     to .pack file) out to the standard output.

     Read the revision arguments from the standard input,
     instead of individual object names. The revision
     arguments are processed the same way as git rev−list
     with the −−objects flag uses its commit arguments to
     build the list of objects it outputs. The objects on
     the resulting list are packed. Besides revisions, −−not
     or −−shallow <SHA−1> lines are also accepted.

     This implies −−revs. When processing the list of
     revision arguments read from the standard input, limit
     the objects packed to those that are not already

     This implies −−revs. In addition to the list of
     revision arguments read from the standard input,
     pretend as if all refs under refs/ are specified to be

     Include unasked−for annotated tags if the object they
     reference was included in the resulting packfile. This
     can be useful to send new tags to native Git clients.

     −−window=<n>, −−depth=<n>
     These two options affect how the objects contained in
     the pack are stored using delta compression. The
     objects are first internally sorted by type, size and
     optionally names and compared against the other objects
     within −−window to see if using delta compression saves
     space. −−depth limits the maximum delta depth; making
     it too deep affects the performance on the unpacker
     side, because delta data needs to be applied that many
     times to get to the necessary object.

     The default value for −−window is 10 and −−depth is 50.
     The maximum depth is 4095.

     This option provides an additional limit on top of
     −−window; the window size will dynamically scale down
     so as to not take up more than <n> bytes in memory.
     This is useful in repositories with a mix of large and
     small objects to not run out of memory with a large
     window, but still be able to take advantage of the
     large window for the smaller objects. The size can be
     suffixed with "k", "m", or "g".  −−window−memory=0
     makes memory usage unlimited. The default is taken from


     the pack.windowMemory configuration variable.

     In unusual scenarios, you may not be able to create
     files larger than a certain size on your filesystem,
     and this option can be used to tell the command to
     split the output packfile into multiple independent
     packfiles, each not larger than the given size. The
     size can be suffixed with "k", "m", or "g". The minimum
     size allowed is limited to 1 MiB. This option prevents
     the creation of a bitmap index. The default is
     unlimited, unless the config variable
     pack.packSizeLimit is set.

     This flag causes an object already in a local pack that
     has a .keep file to be ignored, even if it would have
     otherwise been packed.

     This flag causes an object already in the given pack to
     be ignored, even if it would have otherwise been
     packed.  <pack−name> is the pack file name without
     leading directory (e.g.  pack−123.pack). The option
     could be specified multiple times to keep multiple

     This flag causes an object already in a pack to be
     ignored even if it would have otherwise been packed.

     This flag causes an object that is borrowed from an
     alternate object store to be ignored even if it would
     have otherwise been packed.

     Only create a packed archive if it would contain at
     least one object.

     Progress status is reported on the standard error
     stream by default when it is attached to a terminal,
     unless −q is specified. This flag forces progress
     status even if the standard error stream is not
     directed to a terminal.

     When −−stdout is specified then progress report is
     displayed during the object count and compression
     phases but inhibited during the write−out phase. The
     reason is that in some cases the output stream is
     directly linked to another command which may wish to
     display progress status of its own as it processes


     incoming pack data. This flag is like −−progress except
     that it forces progress report for the write−out phase
     as well even if −−stdout is used.

     This is used to imply −−all−progress whenever progress
     display is activated. Unlike −−all−progress this flag
     doesn’t actually force any progress display by itself.

     This flag makes the command not to report its progress
     on the standard error stream.

     When creating a packed archive in a repository that has
     existing packs, the command reuses existing deltas.
     This sometimes results in a slightly suboptimal pack.
     This flag tells the command not to reuse existing
     deltas but compute them from scratch.

     This flag tells the command not to reuse existing
     object data at all, including non deltified object,
     forcing recompression of everything. This implies
     −−no−reuse−delta. Useful only in the obscure case where
     wholesale enforcement of a different compression level
     on the packed data is desired.

     Specifies compression level for newly−compressed data
     in the generated pack. If not specified, pack
     compression level is determined first by
     pack.compression, then by core.compression, and
     defaults to −1, the zlib default, if neither is set.
     Add −−no−reuse−object if you want to force a uniform
     compression level on all data no matter the source.

     Toggle the "sparse" algorithm to determine which
     objects to include in the pack, when combined with the
     "−−revs" option. This algorithm only walks trees that
     appear in paths that introduce new objects. This can
     have significant performance benefits when computing a
     pack to send a small change. However, it is possible
     that extra objects are added to the pack−file if the
     included commits contain certain types of direct
     renames. If this option is not included, it defaults to
     the value of pack.useSparse, which is true unless
     otherwise specified.

     Create a "thin" pack by omitting the common objects
     between a sender and a receiver in order to reduce
     network transfer. This option only makes sense in


     conjunction with −−stdout.

     Note: A thin pack violates the packed archive format by
     omitting required objects and is thus unusable by Git
     without making it self−contained. Use git index−pack
     −−fix−thin (see git‐index‐pack(1)) to restore the
     self−contained property.

     Optimize a pack that will be provided to a client with
     a shallow repository. This option, combined with
     −−thin, can result in a smaller pack at the cost of

     A packed archive can express the base object of a delta
     as either a 20−byte object name or as an offset in the
     stream, but ancient versions of Git don’t understand
     the latter. By default, git pack−objects only uses the
     former format for better compatibility. This option
     allows the command to use the latter format for
     compactness. Depending on the average delta chain
     length, this option typically shrinks the resulting
     packfile by 3−5 per−cent.

     Note: Porcelain commands such as git gc (see git‐
     gc(1)), git repack (see git‐repack(1)) pass this option
     by default in modern Git when they put objects in your
     repository into pack files. So does git bundle (see
     git‐bundle(1)) when it creates a bundle.

     Specifies the number of threads to spawn when searching
     for best delta matches. This requires that pack−objects
     be compiled with pthreads otherwise this option is
     ignored with a warning. This is meant to reduce packing
     time on multiprocessor machines. The required amount of
     memory for the delta search window is however
     multiplied by the number of threads. Specifying 0 will
     cause Git to auto−detect the number of CPU’s and set
     the number of threads accordingly.

     This is intended to be used by the test suite only. It
     allows to force the version for the generated pack
     index, and to force 64−bit index entries on objects
     located above the given offset.

     With this option, parents that are hidden by grafts are
     packed nevertheless.

     Requires −−stdout. Omits certain objects (usually


     blobs) from the resulting packfile. See git‐rev‐list(1)
     for valid <filter−spec> forms.

     Turns off any previous −−filter= argument.

     A debug option to help with future "partial clone"
     development. This option specifies how missing objects
     are handled.

     The form −−missing=error requests that pack−objects
     stop with an error if a missing object is encountered.
     This is the default action.

     The form −−missing=allow−any will allow object
     traversal to continue if a missing object is
     encountered. Missing objects will silently be omitted
     from the results.

     The form −−missing=allow−promisor is like allow−any,
     but will only allow object traversal to continue for
     EXPECTED promisor missing objects. Unexpected missing
     object will raise an error.

     Omit objects that are known to be in the promisor
     remote. (This option has the purpose of operating only
     on locally created objects, so that when we repack, we
     still maintain a distinction between locally created
     objects [without .promisor] and objects from the
     promisor remote [with .promisor].) This is used with
     partial clone.

     Objects unreachable from the refs in packs named with
     −−unpacked= option are added to the resulting pack, in
     addition to the reachable objects that are not in packs
     marked with *.keep files. This implies −−revs.

     Pack unreachable loose objects (and their loose
     counterparts removed). This implies −−revs.

     Keep unreachable objects in loose form. This implies

     Restrict delta matches based on "islands". See DELTA
     ISLANDS below.


When possible, pack−objects tries to reuse existing on−disk
deltas to avoid having to search for new ones on the fly.
This is an important optimization for serving fetches,
because it means the server can avoid inflating most objects
at all and just send the bytes directly from disk. This
optimization can’t work when an object is stored as a delta
against a base which the receiver does not have (and which
we are not already sending). In that case the server
"breaks" the delta and has to find a new one, which has a
high CPU cost. Therefore it’s important for performance that
the set of objects in on−disk delta relationships match what
a client would fetch.

In a normal repository, this tends to work automatically.
The objects are mostly reachable from the branches and tags,
and that’s what clients fetch. Any deltas we find on the
server are likely to be between objects the client has or
will have.

But in some repository setups, you may have several related
but separate groups of ref tips, with clients tending to
fetch those groups independently. For example, imagine that
you are hosting several "forks" of a repository in a single
shared object store, and letting clients view them as
separate repositories through GIT_NAMESPACE or separate
repos using the alternates mechanism. A naive repack may
find that the optimal delta for an object is against a base
that is only found in another fork. But when a client
fetches, they will not have the base object, and we’ll have
to find a new delta on the fly.

A similar situation may exist if you have many refs outside
of refs/heads/ and refs/tags/ that point to related objects
(e.g., refs/pull or refs/changes used by some hosting
providers). By default, clients fetch only heads and tags,
and deltas against objects found only in those other groups
cannot be sent as−is.

Delta islands solve this problem by allowing you to group
your refs into distinct "islands". Pack−objects computes
which objects are reachable from which islands, and refuses
to make a delta from an object A against a base which is not
present in all of A's islands. This results in slightly
larger packs (because we miss some delta opportunities), but
guarantees that a fetch of one island will not have to
recompute deltas on the fly due to crossing island

When repacking with delta islands the delta window tends to
get clogged with candidates that are forbidden by the
config. Repacking with a big −−window helps (and doesn’t
take as long as it otherwise might because we can reject


some object pairs based on islands before doing any
computation on the content).

Islands are configured via the pack.island option, which can
be specified multiple times. Each value is a left−anchored
regular expressions matching refnames. For example:

     island = refs/heads/
     island = refs/tags/

puts heads and tags into an island (whose name is the empty
string; see below for more on naming). Any refs which do not
match those regular expressions (e.g., refs/pull/123) is not
in any island. Any object which is reachable only from
refs/pull/ (but not heads or tags) is therefore not a
candidate to be used as a base for refs/heads/.

Refs are grouped into islands based on their "names", and
two regexes that produce the same name are considered to be
in the same island. The names are computed from the regexes
by concatenating any capture groups from the regex, with a 
dash in between. (And if there are no capture groups, then
the name is the empty string, as in the above example.) This
allows you to create arbitrary numbers of islands. Only up
to 14 such capture groups are supported though.

For example, imagine you store the refs for each fork in
refs/virtual/ID, where ID is a numeric identifier. You might
then configure:

     island = refs/virtual/([0−9]+)/heads/
     island = refs/virtual/([0−9]+)/tags/
     island = refs/virtual/([0−9]+)/(pull)/

That puts the heads and tags for each fork in their own
island (named "1234" or similar), and the pull refs for each
go into their own "1234−pull".

Note that we pick a single island for each regex to go into,
using "last one wins" ordering (which allows repo−specific
config to take precedence over user−wide config, and so

git‐rev‐list(1) git‐repack(1) git‐prune‐packed(1)


Part of the git(1) suite