How to make a git mirror of a darcs repository

In this article I discuss techniques for migrating source code repositories from darcs to git. I describe two approaches that failed for me, and introduce a new tool that I was able to use successfully with my own projects, and that can be used to create git mirrors of active darcs repositories.


I’ve been a big fan of darcs for over two years, and have used it exclusively for my personal projects. However, in recent times I have been increasingly drawn in by the community and toolset that is growing around git, and I’ve naturally wanted to migrate some of my darcs repositories to git.


The first tool I tried, darcs2git, uses a low-level git component called git-fast-import to efficiently slurp data into git, but when I tried to use it with the latest git at the time of writing, git-fast-import choked on the binary data passed to it by darcs2git. Game over.


Tailor, the Swiss Army Knife of inter-VCS synchronisation, has helped me several times in the past to migrate 80% of one VCS’ contents into a new VCS-du-jour, ultimately leading me to abandon it or file bug reports. Your mileage might vary, depending on the source and target VCSes you try it with.

The key to tailor’s versatility is also its Achilles heel - it has a standardised notion of a changeset, into which intermediate form every source changeset is transformed. This notional changeset can contain renames of files and directories, additions, deletions of files, and suchlike.

When I tried to use tailor to convert my darcs repos to git, it became stuck on certain changesets, apparently due to it misunderstanding some of the move/rename cases in the source darcs changesets, and therefore being unable to replay them into the working copy it uses for migration.

A new approach

I decided to write my own naïve conversion script, which would initialize a dual darcs/git repository in a working directory set aside for migration, then gradually pull changes from a source darcs repo and record each changeset wholesale into the git repository.

Using tricks from darcs2git, tailor and git-svn, I was able to do this pretty easily, and my script even supports incremental importing from an active darcs repository, which would allow it to be used for maintaining public git mirrors of darcs repositories.

Unoriginally dubbed darcs-to-git, and written in ruby, the code can be found (and tracked) here:

darcs-to-git inserts tags into the comments of the git commits it produces, containing the globally unique darcs patch ID from which the commit originated. Having seen this technique used by the excellent git-svn, this seemed the neatest approach for making incremental migration of new darcs patches possible.

Branches, and multiple source darcs repositories

darcs-to-git can only import changesets from a single darcs repository, which essentially means there is no support for importing the implicit branching that results from darcs’ “cherry-picking” nature. It should be possible to add such support, however.

Each darcs repository is essentially a unique branch, consisting of a dependency-ordered bag of changesets that individually may or may not appear in other darcs repositories. By comparing the patch list of two darcs repositories starting with their earliest (common) revision, it should be possible to determine the points at which to create git branches, and use git-merge and/or git-cherry-pick to propagate later common patches between branches.

Patches to darcs-to-git for this or any other worthwhile purpose are welcome.

Further reading