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merge-file: clamp exit code to maximum 127

Git-merge-file is documented to return one of three exit

  - zero means the merge was successful

  - a negative number means an error occurred

  - a positive number indicates the number of conflicts

Unfortunately, this all gets stuffed into an 8-bit return
code. Which means that if you have 256 conflicts, this wraps
to zero, and the merge appears to succeed (and commits a
blob full of conflict-marker cruft!).

This patch clamps the return value to a maximum of 127,
which we should be able to safely represent everywhere. This
also leaves 128-255 for other values. Shells (and some parts
of git) will typically represent signal death as 128 plus
the signal number. And negative values are typically coerced
to an 8-bit unsigned value (so "return -1" ends up as 255).

Technically negative returns have the same problem (e.g.,
"-256" wraps back to 0), but this is not a problem in
practice, as the only negative value we use is "-1".

Signed-off-by: Jeff King <>
Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>
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peff authored and gitster committed Oct 28, 2015
1 parent 282616c commit e34f80278e920e53b69016c7cecb24e4621e4564
Showing with 38 additions and 1 deletion.
  1. +2 −1 Documentation/git-merge-file.txt
  2. +3 −0 builtin/merge-file.c
  3. +33 −0 t/
@@ -41,7 +41,8 @@ lines from `<other-file>`, or lines from both respectively. The length of the
conflict markers can be given with the `--marker-size` option.

The exit value of this program is negative on error, and the number of
conflicts otherwise. If the merge was clean, the exit value is 0.
conflicts otherwise (truncated to 127 if there are more than that many
conflicts). If the merge was clean, the exit value is 0.

'git merge-file' is designed to be a minimal clone of RCS 'merge'; that is, it
implements all of RCS 'merge''s functionality which is needed by
@@ -102,5 +102,8 @@ int cmd_merge_file(int argc, const char **argv, const char *prefix)

if (ret > 127)
ret = 127;

return ret;
@@ -692,4 +692,37 @@ test_expect_success GPG 'merge --no-edit tag should skip editor' '
test_cmp actual expect

test_expect_success 'set up mod-256 conflict scenario' '
# 256 near-identical stanzas...
for i in $(test_seq 1 256); do
for j in 1 2 3 4 5; do
echo $i-$j
done >file &&
git add file &&
git commit -m base &&
# one side changes the first line of each to "master"
sed s/-1/-master/ <file >tmp &&
mv tmp file &&
git commit -am master &&
# and the other to "side"; merging the two will
# yield 256 separate conflicts
git checkout -b side HEAD^ &&
sed s/-1/-side/ <file >tmp &&
mv tmp file &&
git commit -am side

test_expect_success 'merge detects mod-256 conflicts (recursive)' '
git reset --hard &&
test_must_fail git merge -s recursive master

test_expect_success 'merge detects mod-256 conflicts (resolve)' '
git reset --hard &&
test_must_fail git merge -s resolve master


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