Stefan Beller <> writes:

>  Some submodules in the referenced superproject may not be there, 
>  (they are just not initialized/cloned/checked out), which yields
>  an error for now.

Perhaps you can teach "git clone --reference" an new option
(--reference-if-able) to do this?  Then 

    When `--reference` is given together with `--recursive`,
    the reference repository is assumed to contain the submodules
    as well and the submodules are setup as alternates of the
    submodules in the given reference project.
in which "assumed" is a horrible wording (leave the reader
wondering: "so what happens to my data when the assumption does not
hold") can become a lot more reasonable

    When using --reference with --recursive, the --reference is used
    to specify a repository that has a copy of the superproject.  If
    that copy has submodules cloned for itself in its $GIT_DIR/modules,
    they are used as --reference when cloning submodules in the
    resulting clone.

and readers expectation would match with the reality.  Their
submodules would be cloned in a regular fashion if the central
mirror does not have it, and would take advantage of it if there is
already a clone.

Come to think of it, do we even need --super-reference?  "git clone
--reference --recursive" is a two step process, in that first the
superproject is cloned while creating objects/info/alternates, and
then submodules are cloned (via "update --init").  Can we make the
procedure to clone a submodule always look at the reference of the
superproject (i.e. objects/info/alternates) and try to borrow from
the place in it that corresponds to the submodule?  That way, not
just "git clone --reference --recursive" would take advantage of the
existing mirrors of submodules, a user who does this:

    $ git clone --reference $URL super
    $ cd super
    $ git submodule update --init ...

would be able to take advantage of the "what the mirror the
superproject uses already has" when cloning the submodules, no?
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