GIT-UPDATE-REF(1)                Git Manual                GIT-UPDATE-REF(1)

NAME         top

       git-update-ref - Update the object name stored in a ref safely

SYNOPSIS         top

       git update-ref [-m <reason>] [--no-deref] (-d <ref> [<oldvalue>] | [--create-reflog] <ref> <newvalue> [<oldvalue>] | --stdin [-z])

DESCRIPTION         top

       Given two arguments, stores the <newvalue> in the <ref>, possibly
       dereferencing the symbolic refs. E.g. git update-ref HEAD <newvalue>
       updates the current branch head to the new object.

       Given three arguments, stores the <newvalue> in the <ref>, possibly
       dereferencing the symbolic refs, after verifying that the current
       value of the <ref> matches <oldvalue>. E.g. git update-ref
       refs/heads/master <newvalue> <oldvalue> updates the master branch
       head to <newvalue> only if its current value is <oldvalue>. You can
       specify 40 "0" or an empty string as <oldvalue> to make sure that the
       ref you are creating does not exist.

       It also allows a "ref" file to be a symbolic pointer to another ref
       file by starting with the four-byte header sequence of "ref:".

       More importantly, it allows the update of a ref file to follow these
       symbolic pointers, whether they are symlinks or these "regular file
       symbolic refs". It follows real symlinks only if they start with
       "refs/": otherwise it will just try to read them and update them as a
       regular file (i.e. it will allow the filesystem to follow them, but
       will overwrite such a symlink to somewhere else with a regular

       If --no-deref is given, <ref> itself is overwritten, rather than the
       result of following the symbolic pointers.

       In general, using

           git update-ref HEAD "$head"

       should be a lot safer than doing

           echo "$head" > "$GIT_DIR/HEAD"

       both from a symlink following standpoint and an error checking
       standpoint. The "refs/" rule for symlinks means that symlinks that
       point to "outside" the tree are safe: they’ll be followed for reading
       but not for writing (so we’ll never write through a ref symlink to
       some other tree, if you have copied a whole archive by creating a
       symlink tree).

       With -d flag, it deletes the named <ref> after verifying it still
       contains <oldvalue>.

       With --stdin, update-ref reads instructions from standard input and
       performs all modifications together. Specify commands of the form:

           update SP <ref> SP <newvalue> [SP <oldvalue>] LF
           create SP <ref> SP <newvalue> LF
           delete SP <ref> [SP <oldvalue>] LF
           verify SP <ref> [SP <oldvalue>] LF
           option SP <opt> LF

       With --create-reflog, update-ref will create a reflog for each ref
       even if one would not ordinarily be created.

       Quote fields containing whitespace as if they were strings in C
       source code; i.e., surrounded by double-quotes and with backslash
       escapes. Use 40 "0" characters or the empty string to specify a zero
       value. To specify a missing value, omit the value and its preceding
       SP entirely.

       Alternatively, use -z to specify in NUL-terminated format, without

           update SP <ref> NUL <newvalue> NUL [<oldvalue>] NUL
           create SP <ref> NUL <newvalue> NUL
           delete SP <ref> NUL [<oldvalue>] NUL
           verify SP <ref> NUL [<oldvalue>] NUL
           option SP <opt> NUL

       In this format, use 40 "0" to specify a zero value, and use the empty
       string to specify a missing value.

       In either format, values can be specified in any form that Git
       recognizes as an object name. Commands in any other format or a
       repeated <ref> produce an error. Command meanings are:

           Set <ref> to <newvalue> after verifying <oldvalue>, if given.
           Specify a zero <newvalue> to ensure the ref does not exist after
           the update and/or a zero <oldvalue> to make sure the ref does not
           exist before the update.

           Create <ref> with <newvalue> after verifying it does not exist.
           The given <newvalue> may not be zero.

           Delete <ref> after verifying it exists with <oldvalue>, if given.
           If given, <oldvalue> may not be zero.

           Verify <ref> against <oldvalue> but do not change it. If
           <oldvalue> zero or missing, the ref must not exist.

           Modify behavior of the next command naming a <ref>. The only
           valid option is no-deref to avoid dereferencing a symbolic ref.

       If all <ref>s can be locked with matching <oldvalue>s simultaneously,
       all modifications are performed. Otherwise, no modifications are
       performed. Note that while each individual <ref> is updated or
       deleted atomically, a concurrent reader may still see a subset of the


       If config parameter "core.logAllRefUpdates" is true and the ref is
       one under "refs/heads/", "refs/remotes/", "refs/notes/", or the
       symbolic ref HEAD; or the file "$GIT_DIR/logs/<ref>" exists then git
       update-ref will append a line to the log file "$GIT_DIR/logs/<ref>"
       (dereferencing all symbolic refs before creating the log name)
       describing the change in ref value. Log lines are formatted as:

        1. oldsha1 SP newsha1 SP committer LF

           Where "oldsha1" is the 40 character hexadecimal value previously
           stored in <ref>, "newsha1" is the 40 character hexadecimal value
           of <newvalue> and "committer" is the committer’s name, email
           address and date in the standard Git committer ident format.

       Optionally with -m:

        1. oldsha1 SP newsha1 SP committer TAB message LF

           Where all fields are as described above and "message" is the
           value supplied to the -m option.

       An update will fail (without changing <ref>) if the current user is
       unable to create a new log file, append to the existing log file or
       does not have committer information available.

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       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for this manual page,
       see ⟨⟩.  This page was obtained from the
       project's upstream Git repository ⟨⟩ on
       2018-10-29.  (At that time, the date of the most recent commit that
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       (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to

Git           10/28/2018                GIT-UPDATE-REF(1)

Pages that refer to this page: git(1)git-show-ref(1)gitrepository-layout(5)