Normally, git-annex repositories consist of symlinks that are checked into
git, and in turn point at the content of large files that is stored in
.git/annex/objects/. Direct mode gets rid of the symlinks.
The advantage of direct mode is that you can access files directly, including modifying them. The disadvantage is that many regular git commands cannot be used in a direct mode repository, since they don't understand how to update its working tree.
Normally, git-annex repositories start off in indirect mode. With some exceptions:
- Repositories created by the assistant use direct mode by default.
- Repositories on FAT and other less than stellar filesystems that don't support things like symlinks will be automatically put into direct mode.
- Windows always uses direct mode.
Any repository can be converted to use direct mode at any time, and if you decide not to use it, you can convert back to indirect mode just as easily. Also, you can have one clone of a repository using direct mode, and another using indirect mode.
To start using direct mode:
git annex direct
To stop using direct mode:
git annex indirect
With direct mode, you're operating without large swathes of git-annex's carefully constructed safety net, which ensures that past versions of files are preserved and can be accessed. With direct mode, any file can be edited directly, or deleted at any time, and there's no guarantee that the old version is backed up somewhere else.
So if you care about preserving the history of files, you're strongly encouraged to tell git-annex that your direct mode repository cannot be trusted to retain the content of a file. To do so:
git annex untrust .
On the other hand, if you only care about the current versions of files, and are using git-annex with direct mode to keep files synchronised between computers, and manage your files, this should not be a concern for you.
You can use most git-annex commands as usual in a direct mode repository.
Direct mode also works well with the git-annex assistant.
The most important command to use in a direct mode repository is
sync. This will commit any files you have run
git annex add on, as well
as files that were added earlier and have been modified. It will push
the changes to other repositories for
git annex sync there to pick up,
and will pull and merge any changes made on other repositories into the
A very few git-annex commands don't work in direct mode, and will refuse
to do anything. For example,
git annex unlock doesn't make sense in
As for git commands, direct mode prevents using any git command that would
modify or access the work tree. So you cannot
git commit or
git annex sync for both instead), or run
git status (use
annex status instead). These git commands will complain "fatal: This
operation must be run in a work tree".
The reason for this is that git doesn't understand how git-annex uses the work tree in direct mode. Where git expects the symlinks that get checked into git to be checked out in the work tree, direct mode instead replaces them with the actual content of files, as managed by git-annex.
There are still lots of git commands you can use in direct mode. For
example, you can run
git log on files, run
git remote add etc.
For those times when you really need to run a command like
HEAD in a direct mode repository, git-annex has the ability to proxy
the command to work in direct mode.
git annex proxy -- git revert HEAD git annex proxy -- git checkout HEAD^^ git annex proxy -- git mv mydir newname
This works by setting up a temporary work tree, letting the git command run on that work tree, and then updating the real work tree to reflect any changes staged or committed by the git command, with appropriate handling of the direct mode files.
There is also the
undo command to do the equivalent of the above revert
in a simpler way. Say you made a change in direct mode, the assistant
dutifully committed it and you realise your mistake, you can try:
git annex undo file
to revert the last change to
file. Note that you can use the
flag to revert earlier versions of the file.
This is for experts only. You can lose data doing this, or check enormous files directly into your git repository, and it's your fault if you do!
Ok, with the warnings out of the way, all you need to do to make any
git command access the work tree in direct mode is pass it