Using git

git is the version control system that is used to manage all of the source code. It is very powerful, but might be frightening at first. This page should give you a quick overview, but for a complete guide you will have to search the web on your own. Another great resource to get started practically without having to try out the newly-learned commands on a pre-existing repository is learn git branching. You should probably learn the basic git vocabulary and then come back to find out how you can use all that practically. This guide will be oriented on how to create a pull request and things might be in a different order compared to the introductory guides.


This guide is not complete and never will be. If something isn't clear, consult other sources until you are confident you know what you are doing.

I want to try out a feature somebody is working on

If you see a pull request on GitHub that you want to try out, have a look at the line where it says:

user wants to merge n commits into qtile:master from user:branch

Right now you probably have one remote from which you can fetch changes, the origin. If you cloned qtile/qtile, git remote show origin will spit out the upstream url. If you cloned your fork, origin points to it and you probably want to git remote add upstream To try out somebody's work, you can add their fork as a new remote:

git remote add <user>

where you fill in the username from the line we asked you to search for before. Then you can load data from that remote with git fetch and then ultimately check out the branch with git checkout <user>/<branch>.

Alternatively, it is also possible to fetch and checkout pull requests without needing to add other remotes. The upstream remote is sufficient:

git fetch upstream pull/<id>/head:pr<id>
git checkout pr<id>

The numeric pull request id can be found in the url or next to the title (preceeded by a # symbol).


Having the feature branch checked out doesn't mean that it is installed and will be loaded when you restart qtile. You might still need to install it with pip.

I committed changes and the tests failed

You can easily change your last commit: After you have done your work, git add everything you need and use git commit --amend to change your last commit. This causes the git history of your local clone to be diverged from your fork on GitHub, so you need to force-push your changes with:

git push -f <origin> <feature-branch>

where origin might be your user name or origin if you cloned your fork and feature-branch is to be replaced by the name of the branch you are working on.

Assuming the feature branch is currently checked out, you can usually omit it and just specify the origin.

I was told to rebase my work

If upstream/master is changed and you happened to change the same files as the commits that were added upstream, you should rebase your work onto the most recent upstream/master. Checkout your master, pull from upstream, checkout your branch again and then rebase it:

git checkout master
git pull upstream/master
git checkout <feature-branch>
git rebase upstream/master

You will be asked to solve conflicts where your diff cannot be applied with confidence to the work that was pushed upstream. If that is the case, open the files in your text editor and resolve the conflicts manually. You possibly need to git rebase --continue after you have resolved conflicts for one commit if you are rebasing multiple commits.

Note that the above doesn't work if you didn't create a branch. In that case you will find guides elsewhere to fix this problem, ideally by creating a branch and resetting your master branch to where it should be.

I was told to squash some commits

If you introduce changes in one commit and replace them in another, you are told to squash these changes into one single commit without the intermediate step:

git rebase -i master

opens a text editor with your commits and a comment block reminding you what you can do with your commits. You can reword them to change the commit message, reorder them or choose fixup to squash the changes of a commit into the commit on the line above.

This also changes your git history and you will need to force-push your changes afterwards.

Note that interactive rebasing also allows you to split, reorder and edit commits.

I was told to edit a commit message

If you need to edit the commit message of the last commit you did, use:

git commit --amend

to open an editor giving you the possibility to reword the message. If you want to reword the message of an older commit or multiple commits, use git rebase -i as above with the reword command in the editor.