Deleting Your Commit History?

09 Mar, 2023
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At Xebia, we promote publishing software projects as a way to give back to the community, promote innovation, and demonstrate authority. But when doing so, it is important to consider the commit history of the project.

The commit history is a record of all the changes made to the project over time. This includes code changes, bug fixes, and other modifications. Sometimes it may be desirable to delete the commit history of a project before publishing it. For example, your project may have had a very different purpose and scope in the past, making the commit history irrelevant and confusing for anyone who was not involved in the development.

In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps to delete the commit history of a code project so that it is ready to publish!

Step 1: Check out to a temporary branch

Make sure your main branch is in the desired state first, as it will become the starting point of your new history. Then run

git checkout --orphan temp_branch

This command creates a new branch named temp_branch and switches to it. The --orphan option creates a branch without a commit history.

Step 2: Add all files

git add -A

This will stage all changes in the working directory, including deleted files.

Step 3: Commit the changes

We can now commit the changes to the orphan branch using the following command:

git commit -m "Initial commit"

The result is a single commit that contains all project files.

Step 4: Delete the main branch

Now that we have committed the changes to the new branch, we can delete the local main branch, which contains our full commit history.

git branch -D main

Step 5: Rename the temporary branch to main

Next, we need to rename the temporary branch to master:

git branch -m main

Step 6: Force update to our repository

Finally, we need to force update our repository using the following command:

git push --force origin main

The --force option allows us to overwrite the history of the remote main branch with our new local history. This option should generally be used with caution, because you risk losing work you or others committed in the past. However, for us this is the intended result



Deleting the commit history of a project before publishing it on GitHub is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. After all, you will lose all changes ever made to the project, which makes it impossible to revert to an earlier version of your codebase. It is important to consider the reasons why you want to delete the commit history and the potential impact it may have on other contributors to the project. However, if you do decide to delete the commit history, the steps outlined above can help you do it effectively and efficiently.



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