git push force Explained [With Examples]

 

Introduction to git push force git function

git push force command is a git operation responsible for making changes to the remote repository by overwriting an earlier change. A git push command without force only works if you have fetched and merged changes from others in a shared project. Git push function with --force implies that your local commits become the remote latest commits. The downside of this approach is that you will not have records or work from other collaborators. Taking such an approach should be carried out with precaution as other collaborators' recent commits are affected.

In this tutorial about git push force, we will learn how git push force applies to different git scenarios in a shared remote project.

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Git push force workflow

git push force Explained [With Examples]

 

Setting up the lab environment

To practice using git push force command in different situations, you will require to set up a lab environment in git. I will be using Ubuntu-20.04.3 and git version 2.25.1 to run the push force command experiments. To begin working, we will clone a remote repository push-force to the local station as shown in the sample output below.

$ git clone

Sample Output:
git push force Explained [With Examples]

 

Git push force examples

In this section, we will learn using examples how git push --force function works with a remote branch, origin master/main and git push force with --lease.

 

How to perform git push force to a remote branch         

In this example, we have made and committed some changes to mybranch in the remote repository push-force as displayed in the sample output below:

$ git push --set-upstream origin mybranch

Sample Output:
git push force Explained [With Examples]

Now we shall run git log --oneline command to view the commits.

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$ git log --oneline
5da39bc (HEAD -> mybranch, origin/mybranch) newfile.txt
905b49b (master) myfile.txt
a55b205 (origin/master, origin/HEAD) Initial commit

While at this stage, we realize that the committed file 5da39bc was wrong and we shouldn’t have pushed it to remote. So we will make changes to the commit 5da39bc and create a new commit with the changes.

Below are the edited changes to the commit 5da39bc newfile.txt.

$ git commit -m "newfile edited line one.txt"
[mybranch 7f4b5c8] newfile edited line one.txt
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)

Now, we will again run git log --oneline command to view the commits as shown in the sample output below.

$ git log --oneline
7f4b5c8 (HEAD -> mybranch) newfile edited line one.txt
5da39bc (origin/mybranch) newfile.txt
905b49b (master) myfile.txt
a55b205 (origin/master, origin/HEAD) Initial commit

Before we could push the edited changes to the remote mybranch, another user, user B has been working on the shared repository push-force mybranch as well. After we pushed the first commit 5da39bc , user B also pushed her changes commit 5ced2eb.

Since the first commit we have made is wrong, we would like to overwrite user B commit 5ced2eb so that we maintain the right initial commit before any other is added. To achieve that we shall run git push --force command.

But first, let’s run the default  git push command to see what will happen:

$ git push 
 ! [rejected]        mybranch -> mybranch (fetch first)
error: failed to push some refs to 'https://github.com/Josephine-Techie/push-force.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

The push request has been rejected because there were some changes in the remote mybranch since the last push and must be fetched first for a successful push.

It is in such a situation that running git push --force command will be a valid option to void rejection.

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Let’s, therefore, run the git push --force command to forcefully commit the local changes in the remote mybranch as follows:

$ git push --force
Enumerating objects: 12, done.
Counting objects: 100% (12/12), done.
Compressing objects: 100% (8/8), done.
Writing objects: 100% (11/11), 1014 bytes | 37.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 11 (delta 2), reused 0 (delta 0)
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (2/2), done.
To https://github.com/Josephine-Techie/push-force.git
 + 5ced2eb...7f4b5c8 mybranch -> mybranch (forced update)

We successfully pushed the new changes we made to remote without having to fetch User B changes using git push ---force command.

To confirm the current commits, we shall rerun git log --oneline command

$ git log --oneline
7f4b5c8 (HEAD -> mybranch, origin/mybranch) newfile edited line one.txt
5da39bc newfile.txt
905b49b (master) myfile.txt

The sample results do not include commit 5ced2eb from user B since we never fetched it and also it's because git push –-force command overwrites any other remote committed changes.

 

How to perform git push force origin master

To illustrate how git push force origin master command works we shall checkout master as shown in the sample output below.

$ git checkout master
Switched to branch 'master'
Your branch is ahead of 'origin/master' by 1 commit.
  (use "git push" to publish your local commits)

You notice from the sample output that we have run a commit and are yet to push it upstream. To push it upstream we shall run the git push command as follows:

$ git push 
 ! [rejected]        master -> master (fetch first)
error: failed to push some refs to 'https://github.com/Josephine-Techie/push-force.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

Ops! It’s also rejected.

It seems user B has also made changes and pushed them before we did. To overwrite user B committed changes in the origin master we shall run the git push origin master --force command.

$ git push origin master --force
Total 0 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
To https://github.com/Josephine-Techie/push-force.git
 + 4e78c85...905b49b master -> master (forced update)

Now run git log --oneline command to view the commits.

$ git log --oneline 
905b49b (HEAD -> master, origin/master, origin/HEAD) myfile.txt
a55b205 Initial commit

You will notice the commit 4e78c85 isn’t included as it was overwritten by the git push --force command.

Lastly, to ensure that we now have a clean origin master branch we shall run git status.

$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/master'.

 

How to use git push --force-with-lease

git push --force-with-lease  function is recommended for use when you want to consider other team members commit contributions. The push force command with --lease when used generates an error if there are remote changes done since you last pushed yours unlike what push with --force does. We shall demonstrate how the git push --force-with-lease command works in the following example.

After making some edits to the last commit 905b49b in the master branch, we will now want to push it upstream.

Let's view the newly committed changes by running the git log --oneline command

$ git log --oneline
7e9b1c2 (HEAD -> master) edited myfile.txt
905b49b (origin/master, origin/HEAD) myfile.txt
a55b205 Initial commit

When we run the default push function there’s an error because user B still got ahead and pushed her changes. See the sample output below.

$ git push origin master
 ! [rejected]        master -> master (fetch first)
error: failed to push some refs to 'https://github.com/Josephine-Techie/push-force.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

This time around out of consideration of user B commit contributions, we will use git push --force-with-lease command as follows:

$ git push --force-with-lease
! [rejected]        master -> master (stale info)
error: failed to push some refs to 'https://github.com/Josephine-Techie/push-force.git'

Consequently, the git push --force-with-lease command has been rejected. Also, the output for git push --force-with–lease function doesn’t give detailed information same as what a normal git push command outputs in a similar situation.

 

Summary

In this tutorial, we have learnt how git push --force function works in different scenarios under the following topic:

  • How git push force command to a remote branch works
  • How git push force function to origin master operates
  • How git push --force-with-lease works

 

Further reading

Git-push-force

 

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