Can anyone explain, why “git status” touches the .git directory?

I currently maintain a project for a git-prompt for bash ( and I just got a bug report ( from someone who works with Docker, who tells me, that everytime he uses the prompt, the cache is invalidated, because the .git directory is constantly touched.

I have looked into this, and found out, that it is the command git status, which touches the .git directory.
It seems, that only the directory entry itself and no contents are touched.
Can anyone explain, why this is needed, or is this maybe a bug in Git.

  • Connecting to github by https using when pw ends with @
  • Git blame a list of authors in a file
  • Version control of dotfiles with machine-specific changesets
  • How to find which actual command is executed in terminal
  • Git sh.exe process forking issue on windows XP, slow?
  • Can't type characters in git bash
  • Is there a way to show all status info, without touching the .git directory?

    Thanks for the help


    Since the whole reason to use the git status command was, to determine the number of untracked files, I replaced it with git ls-files --others --exclude-standard | wc -l, which doesn’t need a lock.

  • How do I clone my git repo of sublime-text-2 settings to another computer
  • Is there a way to force a commiter enter their username in git bash
  • git equivalent to hg mq?
  • override merge two branches in Git
  • Git repository structure and modularity
  • Does git pull always create a merge commit?
  • One Solution collect form web for “Can anyone explain, why “git status” touches the .git directory?”

    strace git status shows that this action uses the lock file .git/index.lock, that’s why the .git‘s mtime is updated.

    git being cool, it uses the environment variable GIT_INDEX_FILE to decide which lock file to use. If unset, git uses.git/index (this is the default), but if set, git uses its value. From man git:


    This environment allows the specification of an alternate index file. If not specified, the default of $GIT_DIR/index is used.


    GIT_INDEX_FILE=banana git status

    will not update your .git‘s mtime.

    So you now have to make a decision as whether you want to go along this path or not (which certainly has many caveats).

    Good luck!

    Git Baby is a git and github fan, let's start git clone.