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Migrate an existing repository from Subversion to Git on Windows with history intact

Migrate an existing repository from Subversion to Git on Windows with history intact

To continue my quest of converting from CVCS's to git, I figured I would do a short write up on my recent experience with converting from Subversion in a Windows environment. The experience has been quite similar to my TFS conversion, though there is a bit more setup involved. With that said, the process starts with a great open source tool called svn2git. The tool aims to preserve all commit history, tags, and branches in a way that is meaningful in git. In my experience thus far, it does that job very well. So lets get started!

Step 1 - Install

Install Ruby for windows

choco install ruby

No Chocolatey? Head over to to grab the installer for a manual install. Make sure to check "add ruby executables to your PATH".

Patch Ruby gems

Ruby gems is broken on on Windows since 2.4.x was released, so we need to address that first to make the install process and future gem installs easier. Follow the instructions here to get things resolved. There is also a nice explanation there of the actual issue to give you some context.

** Alternatively, if your running the latest version of Windows 10, you can install the Windows subsystem for Linux and follow the remaining steps via the Bash shell

  • Follow the installation guide and launch Bash
  • Install the packages you'll need sudo apt install subversion git git-svn ruby

-- Thanks to our local Linux guru Mike Bebej for reminding me that some things are just easier in Linux :)

Step 2 - Install svn2git

Now that the ruby package manager is installed, installation is simple

cmd: gem install svn2git
bash: sudo gem install svn2git

Step 3 - Initiate Conversion

If you are using the default subversion layout, then the following command will kick things off: (http:// or svn://)

cmd/bash: svn2git

For any non standard repository structures or for a full list of args, the svn2git readme has you covered.

Author mapping

Unlike converting from TFS to Git, commit author information when translating from SVN to Git does not map as easily. For the best possible results, you'll want to create an Author mapping file which will tell svn2git how to map each user in Git. It's a simple text file that you'll pass in with your conversion command. Each line in the file connects an svn username firstLastInitial to a git username/email first last <>.

cmd/bash: svn2git --authors ~/svn2gitAuthors.txt

Step 4 - Prep & Cleanup

Now that you have a git version of your subversion repository, you'll want to clean up some files and add some others to make things a bit more git friendly.

  • If this is a Visual Studio solution, you may need to remove the Subversion source control bindings. Simply make small edit to your .sln files removing a section that resembles GlobalSection(SubversionScc) ... EndGlobalSection in your favorite text editor.

  • Add a .gitignore file. It's likely your project or solution will have some files you won't want in your repository (packages, obj, etc) once your project is built. If this is a Visual Studio project, a near complete way to start is by copying everything from the standard VisualStudio.gitignore. For any other project or stack these templates will get you started. This will ensure all of the build generated files, packages, test results, etc will not be tracked in your new repo.

  • Add a .gitattributes file to help git understand how to deal with project or stack specific files. e.g. How should a .csproj file be treated? Here is a good collection of templates to get you started with yours You'll also find a similar attributes file created for you if you've ever initialized a git repo using the GitHub client for Windows.

  • Add an optional file (markdown or text). A standard GitHub convention that I've become accustomed to, even for private repositories. Great way to quickly outline things about your project that would be useful at a glance, such as build instructions, usage docs, or any other useful info.

Step 5 - Commit & Push

Now that I've git-ified the repository, it's time to commit the files, add the remote, and push the new branch out to your favorite hosted git repository. I recommend Github, but to save on cash, both Bitbucket or Gitlab are also excellent choices for private repo's.

Credit to Troy Hunt who's writeup helped me as well

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