Because Fossil separates the concept of “check-out directory” from “repository DB file,” it gives you the freedom to choose from several working styles. Contrast Git, where the two concepts are normally intermingled in a single working directory, which strongly encourages the “update in place” working style.
With Fossil, it is routine to have multiple check-outs from the same repository:
fossil clone https://example.com/repo /path/to/repo.fossil mkdir -p ~/src/my-project/trunk cd ~/src/my-project/trunk fossil open /path/to/repo.fossil # implicitly opens “trunk” mkdir ../release cd ../release fossil open /path/to/repo.fossil release mkdir ../my-other-branch cd ../my-other-branch fossil open /path/to/repo.fossil my-other-branch mkdir ../scratch cd ../scratch fossil open /path/to/repo.fossil abcd1234 mkdir ../test cd ../test fossil open /path/to/repo.fossil 2019-04-01
Now you have five separate check-out directories: one each for:
- the latest tagged public release
- an alternate branch you’re working on
- a “scratch” directory for experiments you don’t want to do in the other check-out directories; and
- a “test” directory where you’re currently running a long-running test to evaluate a user bug report against the version as of last April Fool’s Day.
Each check-out operates independently of the others.
This multiple-checkouts working style is especially useful when Fossil stores source code in programming languages
where there is a “build” step that transforms source files into files
you actually run or distribute. Contrast a switch-in-place workflow,
where you have to rebuild all outputs from the source files
that differ between those versions whenever you switch versions. In the above model,
you switch versions with a “
cd” command instead, so that you only have
to rebuild outputs from files you yourself change.
This style is also useful when a check-out directory may be tied up with
some long-running process, as with the “test” example above, where you
might need to run an hours-long brute-force replication script to tickle
a Heisenbug, forcing it to show itself. While that runs, you can
open a new terminal tab, “
cd ../trunk”, and get back
Nevertheless, it is possible to work in a more typical Git sort of style, switching between versions in a single check-out directory.
The Idiomatic Fossil Way
The most idiomatic way is as follows:
fossil clone https://example.com/repo /path/to/repo.fossil mkdir work-dir cd work-dir fossil open /path/to/repo.fossil ...work on trunk... fossil update my-other-branch ...work on your other branch in the same directory...
Basically, you replace the
cd commands in the multiple checkouts
workflow above with
fossil up commands.
Opening a Repository by URI
In Fossil 2.12, we added a feature to simplify the single-worktree use case:
mkdir work-dir cd work-dir fossil open https://example.com/repo
Now you have “trunk” open in
work-dir, with the repo file stored as
repo.fossil in that same directory.
Users of Git may be surprised that it doesn’t create a directory for you
and that you
cd into it before the clone-and-open step, not after.
This is because we’re overloading the “open” command, which already had
the behavior of opening into the current working directory. Changing it
to behave like
git clone would therefore make the behavior surprising
to Fossil users. (See our discussions if you want the full
In Fossil 2.14, we added a more Git-like alternative:
fossil clone https://fossil-scm.org/fossil cd fossil
This results in a
fossil.fossil repo DB file and a
Note that our
clone URI behavior does not commingle the repo and
check-out, solving our major problem with the Git design.
If you want the repo to be named something else, adjust the URL:
fossil clone https://fossil-scm.org/fossil/fsl
That gets you
fsl.fossil checked out into
For sites where the repo isn’t served from a subdirectory like this, you
might need another form of the URL. For example, you might have your
repo served from
dev.example.com and want it cloned as
fossil clone https://dev.example.com/repo/my-project
/repo addition is the key: whatever comes after is used as the
repository name. See the docs for more details.