What is Git? Version control for collaborative programming Otesanya David April 1, 2022

What is Git? Version control for collaborative programming

What is Git? Version control for collaborative programming


Git is a software platform mainly used by computer programmers for collaboration. At its core, Git keeps track of changes to files and allows multiple users to coordinate updates to those files. The most common use case for Git is developers working on source code files, but it could be used to manage updates to files of any type.

Git is also the version control standard for GitHub and other source code management systems, and it is widely used with within devops to implement CI/CD. For developers deploying and managing their applications on Kubernetes or other cloud-native platforms, GitOps offers best practices for working with containerized clusters and applications.

Is Git a programming language?

Git is not a programming language, but it’s become incredibly important for computer programmers working in almost any language you can name. Today, Git is the de facto standard for what’s known as version control software. Programmers use version control to keep track of updates to large codebases, roll back to earlier versions if needed, and see any changes that were made, as well as who made them. It’s become an integral part of agile software development, and is a central feature of GitOps, which extends the agile devops philosophy to container-based systems.

Why is it called Git?

Git’s name is intimately tied to its history. Git was created by someone whose name you almost certainly know: Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. Git was created in 2005 specifically to help manage the development of the Linux kernel. Torvalds was dissatisfied with many other version control systems at the time, and BitKeeper, which was favored by some kernel developers, wasn’t open source. (It’s a testament to Torvalds’s impact on computing that a software platform as ubiquitous as Git is only his second-largest claim to fame.)

When the earliest version of Git was rolled out, Torvalds cheekily offered a variety of explanations for its name. The most likely explanation is that Git is a three-letter combination that was easy to pronounce and wasn’t already in use by another Unix command. The word also sounds like get—relevant because you can use Git to get source code from a server. The word git is also a mild term of abuse in British English—relevant if you’re getting mad at some software. Torvalds added that you might say it’s an abbreviation for “global information tracker” if you were in a good mood, and “goddamn idiot truckload of [rude word here]” if you were in a bad one.

Who owns Git?

As noted, Git was specifically created as an open source alternative to existing version control software, which means that no single person or entity controls it. A few months after its creation, Torvalds handed off maintenance duties to Junio Hamano, who had been a major contributor to the project up to that point. Hamano, who now works for Google, continues to be Git’s core maintainer today.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.


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