Evan Oxfeld

Sneakernet Solved With Git Bundle

Recently I wanted to transfer a presentation from one machine to another, and unfortunately I was unable to connect to the Internet. Similar to life when it was entirely offline or whenever Github is vexingly down, I was in a classic sneakernet scenario. If you haven’t heard the term, sneakernet is slang for walking media such as a disk or USB flash drive from one machine to another in order to transfer files. Bonus points if you bring a pedometer along.

Ordinarily I’d copy the presentation onto a USB stick, transfer the presentation to the second computer, and be done. In a feeble attempt at version control, maybe I would have renamed the file “Presentation DRAFT1 FINAL”. However, this time my presentation was in HTML/JavaScript and already version controlled with Git. While I could use git to create and apply patches across to the unconnected machine, there’s an easier way - git bundle.

Create the Git Bundle

Think of git bundle as zipping or tarring up your repository with benefits - namely that you can transfer the exact git objects that store your commits, branches, and tags. A git bundle mimics a remote, enabling fetching, pulling, and diffing between machines that aren’t otherwise connected.

To create a bundle named “repo.bundle” containing each and every commit in the master branch:

git bundle create repo.bundle master

Especially if you anticipate transferring more commits in the future, tag the current commit on master.

Clone the Bundle on the Second Machine

If the repository does not already exist on the second machine, it’s easiest to clone directly from the bundle.

To clone into the directory “myRepo” and check out the branch master:

git clone repo.bundle myRepo -b master

Verify the master branch. My preferred method is viewing a graph of the commits:

git log --oneline --decorate --graph

Transferring Additional Commits

We could once again bundle the entirety of the master branch and do a git clone on the second machine, but we’d sacrifice any additional work on that box. Instead, bundle master starting from the previous bundle’s most recent commit:

git bundle create more.bundle lastBundleTag..master

On the second machine, verify the bundle then pull the contents into master:

git bundle verify more.bundle
git pull more.bundle master

Once again, verify the master branch and the recently transferred commits:

git log --oneline --decorate --graph


Using git bundle makes version controlling repositories across unconnected machines simple. Additionally, all the elements of the git workflow remain at your beck and call. For example, consider creating a long running branch for changes that are only applicable to the second machine for reasons such as easy diffing between machines.