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Microsoft now uses Git to manage its Windows source code

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May 25, 2017

Microsoft said today that it's now using Git to manage its huge collection of scource code that its Windows operating system uses, and has shared some performance issues it has repaired along the way.

Microsoft called Git the “largest source code repo site on the planet” from its launch of the “fat Git repo” handler, the Git Virtual File System, as the foundation of its planned shift. Not everybody saw this coming.

The software behemoth is pleased about the move, in particular about being able to move the whole 2,000-strong Windows OneCore team from the Source Depot internal tool to Git over a single weekend.

However, not everybody at Microsoft is happy with Git. There are some workers that claim that there are MS tools that don't support Git, having to learn the new process.

Performance is mostly down to Microsoft's Git Virtual File System, a layer designed to present Git as an ordinary file system to the user.

“Over time, Microsoft engineers crawl across the source code base and touch more and more stuff. You end up with a whole list of files that were modified at some point in time but aren’t really used any longer. This leads to a gradual degradation in user performance,” one worker noted.

That's what's slowing things down, so Microsoft asserted the IT community that it is refining GVFS with something it calls “O modified”. Instead of the number of files read, key commands are proportional to the number of files a user has current, uncommitted edits on.

He's measured 'O modified' against four commands and claims a speed up of 2.3 times for Status, 3.5 times for Add, 6.2 times for Commit, and 29 times for Checkout.

The other “must try harder” turned out to be in remote offices. Because the current iteration of GVFS is over-centralised, an operation like Clone that only needs 127 seconds, is taking nearly 25 minutes in Microsoft's offices.

To get around that issue, Harry writes that GVFS's maintainers added a proxy capability-- “With a proxy configured and up to date, it took about 70 seconds”.

To be sure, third parties looked pleased with GVFS, with some support from Atlassian in SourceTree, Tower, as well as Visual Studio. Time will tell how long this is going to work out. The open source concept is still very new at Microsoft, especially with the older generation that have been with the company for 20 or years or more.

Source: Microsoft.


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