The Greatness of Git

By February 28, 2012Blog

When Linus Torvalds says he is going to work on a side project he doesn’t think small and he doesn’t work slowly.

When he created “Git,” the software source control and collaboration system that runs Linux kernel development, he started writing code on a Sunday (April 3, 2005) and emerged just a few days later with a new revision control system that today is regarded as one of the best pieces of software ever written (second, at least, to Linux, of course).

Andrew Morton said when introducing Linus to speak about Git to an audience at Google, Git is “expressly designed to make you feel less intelligent than you thought you were.”

Software Freedom Law Center Founder and co-author of the GPL Eben Moglen said during a keynote panel at LinuxCon last August: “Linus was presented with a nasty weekend once upon a time and out of it came Git. Another brilliant achievement, you understand. A work of superb design that is going to change the software industry and the world…because one man had one itch one weekend that was really biting, and he had to invent something. And he’s a brilliantly inventive man and scored another hole in one.”

Git had to be great in order to support the unmatched rate of development that Linux requires. Today, the Linux community applies more than five patches per hour to the kernel and to date has written more than 15 million lines of code. The sheer size of Linux development has made the project one from which others have borrowed both collaborative development lessons and and tools – like Git. Today Git is used by the Linux community, as well as developers working on projects that range from Ruby on Rails to Android to Perl and Eclipse, and many more.

The popularity of Git is also resulting in it becoming part of the technology vernacular, with businesses based on Git flourishing.

Consider GitHub. This is an amazing code repository that uses the Git revision control system and has become one of the most popular places to host and collaborate on software. This service is being used by more than a million people to store over two million code repositories.

Could Git also be getting into publishing? Maybe. reporter Bob McMillan recently took GitHub for spin, publishing his story about the repository in the repository. 

“GitHub was originally designed for software developers…But nowadays, it’s also being used to oversee stuff outside the programming world, including DNA data and Senate bills that may turn into laws and all sorts of other stuff you can put into a text file, such as, well, a Wired article.”

He might have gotten a little more than he bargained for with all the collaboration, but his experiment demonstrates its power.

GitHire is another new online application and service that builds upon Git for finding the world’s best programmers. GitHire will crawl Git repositories, find and rank programmers based on their code and reputation and provide employers with a short list of the world’s best talent most relevant to their needs. If you’re a software developer and doubted it before, code is most definitely the new resume.

There are a number of other examples, as well as native Git for Windows, Git implementations in other languages, tutorial businesses based on Git, and more.

The measure of truly great software development is use. When others use it and build new projects and/or businesses from it, you know it’s truly great. This is the essence of Linux and open source software development. By writing the best code and sharing it with the world, everything gets better, faster, and there becomes even more new ways to collaborate and share.