Git: merging public and private branches while while keeping certain files intact in both branches

I’ve read a few git questions here, but could not find an answer to this one:

I have a public and a private branches where I want to allow certain files to diverge.

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  • Those are configuration files with passwords and my local customizations.

    I do want to be able to merge the branches both ways: from private to public and back, but I do not want to ever have those specific files merged automatically.

    Is there a way to set up git this way? I’d love to find an automated solution 🙂 – so that merging could be done as usual.

    EDIT: here’s the solution that worked for me (Thanks to VonC for the advice on gitattribute)

    the only unexpected thing for me was that “merge protection” starts working only after files have diverged in the two branches, not immediately after the following configuration was applied

    .gitattributes (track with git if you want to share this) or .git/info/attributes:

    file1      merge=keepmine
    path/file2     merge=keepmine

    keepmine is the named custom merge manager that is just a do-nothing command called instead of the internal merge driver on selected files, which is set up below

    When merging from private to public branch I usually do git merge --squash private. That way private edits won’t get into the git history on the public branch.


    #public repository
    [remote "origin"]
        fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
        url = <public repo git url> 
    #private repository
    #has to set up with git init and populated with the initial commit to branch mybranch
    [remote "private"]
        push = +:
        url = /path/to/local/private/repo 
    [merge "keepmine"]
        name = dont_merge_selected_files
        driver = echo %O %A %B 
    [branch "master"]
        remote = origin
        merge = refs/heads/master 
    #private branch settings
    [branch "mybranch"]
        remote = private
        merge = refs/heads/mybranch

    if there’s a way to improve this please comment

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  • 4 Solutions collect form web for “Git: merging public and private branches while while keeping certain files intact in both branches”

    To be on the safe side, you can add a git attribute (see here for an example) for those private files.

    That way, you can define a script (a “merge manager”) which will ensure the file including private informations will remain empty (or with a public content) if merged on the public branch, while keeping its local content if merged to the private branch.
    It means you can merge/rebase without thinking about that file.

    One way to do this is with git rebase. By keeping your private changes as a few commits off the end of your master, you can commit public stuff to the master branch (or whatever you choose your working branch to be), and then rebase your private branch against master whenever you want to update.

    Another way to handle this is to keep template configuration files in Git, such as frobozz.config.template. In your working directory, copy frobozz.config.template to the (unversioned) frobozz.config and modify. Just be sure to back up your working directory too, if you need your local changes to be backed up.

    This only appears to work if there are merge conflicts detected. Merging back and forth between branches the file does get overwritten. Unless I set something up wrong. Of course this in on windows msysgit git version

    Keep passwords under version control is the worst idea ever. You need CVS, not git, to work with separate files. Git as many other modern DVCS working with the entire tree, not with separate files.

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