Merging Git Repositories

Engineering story: how I merge two Git repositories and what are the hidden tasks you didn't think about.


Today I would like to share my recent experience about merging two Git repositories, and share the hidden tasks which you might not be aware of. Our team just merged two repositories into one. Initially, I thought it was simple and should take one morning to finish. However, the reality is, the merge has a lot of implications during the whole sprint. In our case, we use Java and Maven, so I’ll mainly talk about them.

After reading this article, you’ll understand:

  • How to merge two Git repositories (using Maven)
  • The impact on existing branches
  • The existing tags and releases
  • Pull requests
  • Reorganize the Maven POM
  • Fix Maven bugs
  • CI changes (Jenkins)
  • Deployment
  • Tool changes (daily tool, release tool, …)
  • Issue management
  • Documentation

Merging Two Repositories

I followed the Nuxeo documentation Git Usage - Merging Two Repositories for the entire operation. If I remember correctly, I did the following steps:

  1. Ask for a new repository from company’s DevOps team
  2. Clone tool from
  3. Clone project A as projectA in mirror mode
  4. Clone project B as projectB in mirror mode
  5. Prepare the merge (need to use Maven)
  6. Extract the result from the merge tool git-merge-repos in its sub-directory called merged-repo
  7. Add Git remote
  8. Improve the merge commit description if needed
  9. Push to upstream

Step 2 and 3 are important. You need to clone projects in mirror or bare mode. Otherwise, in normal mode, the git-merge-repos script will not understand the distinction between remote branches and local branches. It results to a unsuccessful merge: only the master branch will be present in the new repo. In order to preserve all the branches, use Git bare repository.

Existing Branches

Normally, all the existing branches are merged. (I said normally because I didn’t check each of them myself). If both repos contain branch having the same name, they will be merged as one branch in the new repo. For example, we have branch 1.0 on project A, and branch 1.0 on project B. Then in final project, we’ll still have branch 1.0—the merge script creates a new merge commit for branch 1.0.

In our case, all the work-in-progress (WIP) branches contains more than 1000 commits differed from master. It means that it is almost impossible to rebase the branch against master. We have two solutions:

  1. Start a new branch from master and cherry-pick the latest commits on WIP branch
  2. Start a new branch and recreate everything

Both of them are useful. In complex cases, I suggest the second one. You might also want to synchronize changes from old repositories to the new one using rsync. Use option -r, --recursive to look up files recursively; use option --delete to delete files if they exist on the new repo:

$ rsync -r --delete /old /new

Tip: ensure branches have few changes and already rebased before merging repositories. Or even better, merge them or delete them. This will avoid additional work after the merge.

Existing Tags and Releases

There’re two choices in regards to the existing tags: either transfer them to the new repositories, or not transfer them. Transferring tags to new repositories might create conflicts if project A and project B have the same tags.

In our case, we choose not to transfer any tags from the previous repositories. Because the old repositories are archived, not deleted. If needed, people can still go there and download existing tags from the old ones. This is also because we want to start a new versioning on the new repositories: using the existing one will be conflicting (versions already used).

Pull Requests

Existing pull requests in status “open” are closed and moved to the new repositories. Before the merge, you might want to consider how many PRs are still open, whether they can be merged before the repository merge. Moving from one repo to another makes you lost your review comments. So be careful.

Reorganize the Maven POM

If you want to move the new repo, refactoring your build tool is almost a must. In regards to Maven, we need to create a new Maven POM, as the parent POM of both existing projects A and B.

We chose to rename the group ID, even though it is not mandatory. It allows us to restart the versioning and have a better semantic for the future. While the new group ID looks better, it implies the following tasks:

  • Change all the group ID in all the pom.xml
  • Change the Ant tasks where the group ID is used

Also, need to be careful whether a simple find-replace is enough. In some cases, you might keep both the old group ID and the new one. Because some other dependencies are still using the old group ID.

We didn’t completely finish the re-organization of the Maven POM. Since our plan is to have multiple components having (better) well-separated responsibilities, this is a long running tasks. I plan to do at least the following:

  • Move components to the same level as project A and project B
  • Create a module for packaging
  • Move integration tests after the packaging module
  • Move the dependency management and plugin management to the top level POM
  • Create a new project on Sonar and remove the existing ones

Fix Maven Bug(s)

One Maven “bug” has been fixed during the sprint, which is the distributionManagement. Previously, we have two sections of distributionManagement, one in project A and the other in project B. Once these projects are merged, we need a single section declared at the parent POM so that the deploy plugin knows where the snapshots should be deployed. Different from other Maven tasks, this one is the only blocker one, which fails the Jenkins builds.

CI Changes (Jenkins)

On Jenkins, we need to ensure all the jobs are still available for continuous integration. It includes mainly:

  • The master job
  • The maintenance job
  • The on-demand jobs
  • The release job
  • The customized jobs

Note that the build time might increase significantly since each build is now executing tasks from both project A and project B! You might want to find out ways to speed up the build. For example, I did some studies on how to speed up the Maven build.


It might also change to way you deploy your software. Check before doing the merge.


In our cases, we’ve similar tools for both projects for creating branches, changing versions, releasing etc. They are now merged into a single directory and can be used for both projects.

Issue Management

Our issue management tool changes too. We use JIRA, and there were one JIRA project for project A and one JIRA project for project B. Now, we use a single one for both.

If I can do the repo-merge again, I might want to change the issue management tool first.


We use confluence wiki for documentation. Merging repositories mean merging the confluence wiki as well. So this is yet another task to be considered.


As you can see, merging two repositories might not be as simple as you think about. It implies changes on different parts of the development cycle. Some tasks are also dependent on others, so planning is ready important when merging repositories. Hope you enjoy this article, see you the next time!

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