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 most regular git commands cannot safely be used, and only a subset of git-annex commands can be used.
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.
enabling (and disabling) 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; direct mode interoperates.
To start using direct mode:
git annex direct
To stop using direct mode:
git annex indirect
safety of using direct mode
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 (until you dropunused them). 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.
use a direct mode repository
You can use most git-annex commands as usual in a direct mode repository. A very few commands don't work in direct mode, and will refuse to do anything.
Direct mode also works well with the git-annex assistant.
You can use
git commit --staged, or plain
git commit -a, or
git commit <file> ..
that'd commit whole large files into git!
what doesn't work in direct mode
git annex status shows incomplete information. A few other commands,
git annex unlock don't make sense in direct mode and will refuse to
As for git commands, you can probably use some git working tree
manipulation commands, like
git checkout and
git revert in useful
ways... But beware, these commands can replace files that are present in
your repository with broken symlinks. If that file was the only copy you
had of something, it'll be lost.
This is one more reason it's wise to make git-annex untrust your direct mode repositories. Still, you can lose data using these sort of git commands, so use extreme caution.