Old Versioning Branches


Nautilus has many branches of old versions lying around. There is the idea to turn these branches into tags instead, e.g. turning branch gnome-2-4 into tag archive/gnome-2-4.

Does anyone know of any reasons to keep these branches? All other core projects that I checked also have them. Is it to allow building old versions with jhbuild?

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What benefit do you expect turning these branches into tags to provide? Alternatively, what problems are coming from leaving the branches around?

The GitLab UI automatically keeps the old branches separated from more recent work in a “Stale” tab. Having extra unused remote tracking branches in a git checkout is less annoying than having extra tags in some ways - remote tracking branches are namespaced to the remote, for example, but tags are not.

Note that with any change, whether removing the branches in favour of tags or renaming the branches to e.g. start with archive/, existing git checkouts will retain references to the old deleted branches until a manual step is taken to clean them up, e.g. git remote prune origin.


For me the main benefit would be when cherry-picking commits into the stable branch, or picking such a branch as target for a new MR.

Currently, there is a long list of gnome-x-y branches, where only the last 2 or 3 would be relevant.

I wonder if removing older stable branches won’t inconvenience distributions in some way. Do they track git branches? Or tarball releases only?

Most distributions only use tarballs (except for when they’re providing unreleased/development versions of packages).

Debian is actually a notable case that does otherwise. Their modern git packaging – here’s the nautilus repo – is done as a fork of the upstream project’s git repo when possible. Debian usually creates their own branches for following upstream releases (upstream/*) to integrate with their packaging system, so they won’t be affected by the removal of branches in the nautilus repo for nautilus versions that are no longer receiving new releases.

Sometimes it’s convenient to backport fixes to old branches even if they won’t ever be released.

Another problem is we have a server hook that prevents you from deleting branches that start with “gnome-” so the only way to actually do this would involve asking sysadmins for help.

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