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git-cinnabar 0.5

cinnabar is the common natural form in which mercury can be found on Earth. It contains mercury sulfide and its powder is used to make the vermillion pigment.

git-cinnabar is a git remote helper to interact with mercurial repositories. Contrary to other such helpers*, it doesn't use a local mercurial clone under the hood, although it currently does require mercurial to be installed for some of its libraries.

* This applies to the following tools:

The main focus at the moment is to make it work with mozilla-central and related mercurial repositories and support Mozilla workflows (try server, etc.).

Repositories last used with versions lower than 0.3.0 are not supported. Please run git cinnabar fsck with version 0.3.0 first.


  • Git (any version should work ; cinnabarclone bundles require 1.4.4)
  • Python 2.7 and/or 3.5 or more.
  • Mercurial version 1.9 or newer


  • Add this directory to your PATH. If you have another git-remote-hg project in your PATH already, make sure the git-cinnabar path comes before.

  • A native helper is used for faster operations. You can download a prebuilt binary with the following command (assuming one is available for your system):

    $ git cinnabar download

    Alternatively, you can build it:

    $ make

    If you want to build git along the helper, you can run make git.


git-cinnabar will use one of python3, python, python2.7 or python2, whichever has mercurial libraries. If none of them does, it will use the first that can be found.

You may force a specific python through the GIT_CINNABAR_PYTHON environment variable.


$ git clone hg::<mercurial repo>

where <mercurial repo> can be a path to a local directory containing a mercurial repository, or a http, https or ssh url.

Essentially, use git like you would for a git repository, but use a hg:: url where you would use a git:// url.

See for an example workflow for Mozilla repositories.

Remote refs styles:

Mercurial has two different ways to handle what git would call branches: branches and bookmarks. Mercurial branches are permanent markers on each changeset that belongs to them, and bookmarks are similar to git branches.

You may choose how to interact with those with the cinnabar.refs configuration. The following values are supported, either individually or combined in a comma-separated list:

  • bookmarks: in this mode, the mercurial repository's bookmarks are exposed as refs/heads/$bookmark. Practically speaking, this means the mercurial bookmarks appear as the remote git branches.

  • tips: in this mode, the most recent head of each mercurial branch is exposed as refs/heads/$branch. Any other head of the same branch is not exposed. This mode can be useful when branches have no more than one head.

  • heads: in this mode, the mercurial repository's heads are exposed as refs/heads/$branch/$head, where $branch is the mercurial branch name and $head is the full changeset sha1 of that head.

When these values are used in combinations, the branch mappings are varied accordingly to make the type of each remote ref explicit and to avoid name collisions.

  • When combining bookmarks and heads, bookmarks are exposed as refs/heads/bookmarks/$bookmark and branch heads are exposed as refs/heads/branches/$branch/$head (where $head is the full changeset sha1 of the head).

  • When combining bookmarks and tips, bookmarks are exposed as refs/heads/bookmarks/$bookmark and branch tips are exposed as refs/heads/branches/$branch. Any other heads of the same branch are not exposed.

  • When combining all of bookmarks, heads, and tips, bookmarks are exposed as refs/heads/bookmarks/$bookmark, branch heads are exposed as refs/heads/branches/$branch/$head (where $head is the full changeset sha1 of the head), except for the branch tips, which are exposed as refs/heads/branches/$branch/tip.

The shorthand all (also the default), is the combination of bookmarks, heads, and tips.

The refs style can also be configured per remote with the remote.$remote.cinnabar-refs configuration. It is also possible to use cinnabar.pushrefs or remote.$remote.cinnabar-pushrefs to use a different scheme for pushes only.


Because mercurial stores tags in a file in the repository, it is not possible for git-cinnabar to know them when git asks for them, except when the repository has already been updated. Until version 0.4.0, git-cinnabar would try to get tags in a best effort way.

Furthermore, the way tags are tracked across branches in mercurial can make it awkward when pulling from multiple mercurial repositories. For example, pulling tags from mozilla-release, mozilla-beta, and mozilla-esr* repositories is messy.

So, as of 0.5.0, tags are not associated with mercurial remotes anymore, and one needs to setup a separate remote that consolidates all mercurial tags tracked by git-cinnabar. That remote can be set like the following:

$ git remote add tags hg::tags:

And tags can be updated with, e.g.:

$ git fetch tags

Fetching a specific mercurial changeset:

It can sometimes be useful to fetch a specific mercurial changeset from a remote server, without fetching the entire repository. This can be done with a command line such as:

$ git cinnabar fetch hg::<mercurial repo> <changeset sha1>

Translating git commits to mercurial changesets and vice-versa:

When dealing with a remote repository that doesn't use the same identifiers, things can easily get complicated. Git-cinnabar comes with commands to know the mercurial changeset a git commit represents and the other way around.

The following command will give you the git commit corresponding to the given mercurial changeset sha1:

$ git cinnabar hg2git <changeset>

The following command will give you the mercurial changeset corresponding to the given git commit sha1:

$ git cinnabar git2hg <commit>

Both commands allow abbreviated forms, as long as they are unambiguous (no need for all the 40 hex digits of the sha1).

Avoiding metadata:

In some cases, it is not desirable to have git-cinnabar create metadata for all pushed commits. Notably, for volatile commits such as those used on the Mozilla try repository.

By default, git-cinnabar doesn't store metadata when pushing to non-publishing repositories. It does otherwise.

This behavior can be changed per-remote with a remote.$remote.cinnabar-data preference with one of the following values:

  • always
  • never
  • phase

phase is the default described above. always and never are self-explanatory.

Cinnabar clone:

For large repositories, an initial clone can take a large amount of time. A Mercurial server operator can install the extension provided in mercurial/, and point to a git repository or bundle containing pre-generated git-cinnabar metadata. See details in the extension file.

Users cloning the repository would automatically get the metadata from the git repository or bundle, and then pull the missing changesets from the Mercurial repository.


At the moment, push is limited to non-merge commits.

There is no support for the following mercurial features:

  • obsolescence markers
  • phases
  • namespaces

Checking corruptions:

Git-cinnabar is still in early infancy, and its metadata might get corrupted for some reason.

The following command allows to detect various types of metadata corruption:

git cinnabar fsck

This command will fix the corruptions it can, as well as adjust some of the metadata that contains items that became unnecessary in newer versions.

The --full option may be added for a more thorough validation of the metadata contents. Using this option adds a significant amount of work, and the command can take more than half an hour on repositories the size of mozilla-central.

hg:// urls:

The msys shell (not msys2) doesn't keep hg::url intact when crossing the msys/native boundary, so when running cinnabar in a msys shell with a native git, the url is munged as hg;;proto;\host\path\, which git doesn't understand and doesn't even start redirecting to git-remote-hg.

To allow such setups to still work, hg:// urls are supported. But since mercurial can be either on many different protocols, we abuse the port in the given url to pass the protocol.

A hg:// url thus looks like:


The default protocol is https, and the port can be omitted.

  • hg:: becomes hg://

  • hg:: becomes hg://

  • hg::ssh:// becomes hg://

  • hg::file:///some/path becomes (awkward) hg://:file/some/path

  • hg::http://localhost:8080/foo becomes hg://localhost:8080.http/foo

  • hg::tags: becomes hg://:tags

Experimental features:

Git-cinnabar has a set of experimental features that can be enabled independently. You can set the cinnabar.experiments git configuration to a comma-separated list of those features to enable the selected ones, or to all to enable them all. The available features are:

  • wire

    In order to talk to Mercurial repositories, git-cinnabar normally uses mercurial python modules. This experimental feature allows to access Mercurial repositories without using the mercurial python modules. It then relies on git-cinnabar-helper to connect to the repository through the mercurial wire protocol.

    The feature is automatically enabled when Mercurial is not installed.

  • merge

    Git-cinnabar currently doesn’t allow to push merge commits. The main reason for this is that generating the correct mercurial data for those merges is tricky, and needs to be gotten right.

    The main caveat with this experimental support for pushing merges is that it currently doesn’t handle the case where a file was moved on one of the branches the same way mercurial would (i.e. the information would be lost to mercurial users).