Before I get into the details, I'd like to point out that I actually
understand the purpose of `submodule init` now ;).  To avoid further
confusion, my current one-line command summaries would be:

  init:   mark a submodule as active for future submodule operation
  deinit: mark a submodule as inactive for future submodule operation
  sync:   update remote.<name>.origin in submodules to reflect changes
          in .gitmodules or the superproject's remote URL.

I don't think we disagree on that, we just don't agree on how to
implement it.

Currently, Git uses submodule.<name>.url in the superproject's local
configuration as a marker for submodule activation.  This is not (as
far as I know) discussed in the docs, which is why I initially
missunderstood the purpose of `init` to be “setup the superproject's
local configuration so we don't have to keep resolving the submodules
URL relative to the superproject's upstream URL”.  With the proposed
`deinit` docs, this role for the submodule.<name>.url is mentioned,
but not in a place where casual users will be able to easily connect
it to the purpose of `init`.

I floated using submodule.<name>.update (with 'none' for inactive and
anything else for active) as an alternative marker:

On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 01:16:43PM -0500, W. Trevor King wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 07:04:05PM +0100, Jens Lehmann wrote:
> > Am 01.12.2012 18:49, schrieb W. Trevor King:
> > > I think removing `init` will cause some compatibility issues anyway,
> > > so I was re-imaging how you do it.  I don't think update='none' and
> > > "don't populate my submodule" are distinct ideas, while a locally
> > > configured url="somwhere" and "please populate my submodule" are (with
> > > the blank-url case defaulting to the superproject itself).
> > 
> > Why would we want to remove "init"? It still has to copy the "url"
> > setting (and it would be a compatibility nightmare if we would change
> > that, imagine different git versions used on the same work tree).
> In my init-less rewrite, it doesn't have to copy the url setting.
> People using older versions of Git would need to run `init` using
> their old version.  Having the url defined in .git/config won't break
> my init-less submodule commands, it just means that the value in
> .gitmodules will be masked.

but that doesn't seem to be going over very well.  Junio may have been
weighing in obliquely with:

On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 06:00:06PM -0800, Junio C Hamano wrote:
> Jens Lehmann <> writes:
> > [snip v1 deinit commit message]
> I fully agree with your analysis on the reason why the "url" element
> is special and has to be copied to $GIT_DIR/config, but when you
> deinit (or uninit) a submodule to say you are no longer interested
> in it and do not want it populated in the context of the
> superproject, I am not sure if removing only submodule.$name.url (so
> that when you later decide to "init" it again, you will keep the
> values for submodule.$name.update and other things from the previous
> life) is the sane thing to do, or it is better to remove
> submodule.$name.* altogether as if an earlier "init" has never
> happened.  Would it be worth analyzing the pros-and-cons here?

Let me take another stab at presenting my argument in favor of a
different activity marker.


Add a new boolean option, submodule.<name>.active, to explicitly mark
submodules as active (with “active” defined as “to be returned by
module_list()”).  Strip down `init` (and the --init part of `update
--init`) to just setting this option to true.  `deinit` only sets this
option to false (but a `deinit --clean` could remove the whole
submodule.<name> section).

With this in place, extracting URLs for submodule operations be
similar to the extraction of other variables (.gitmodules defaults
with superproject-local .git/config overrides).  This also makes it
easier to track maintenance updates in .gitmodules-defined URLs,
because you aren't forced to bake overrides into your local

The upgrade path from earlier versions of Git is easy: if
submodule.<name>.active is unset, use the presence of
submodule.<name>.url to determine its initial value.

In the case where you check out an earlier superproject commit which
is missing a particular submodule (or remove a submodule without
deinit-ing), the presense of an active setting in .git/config should
not cause an error, which they currently seem to:

On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 11:37:14AM -0500, W. Trevor King wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 04:56:02PM +0100, Jens Lehmann wrote:
> > Am 01.12.2012 00:52, schrieb Phil Hord:
> > > If I never 'submodule init' a submodule, it does not get visited by
> > > 'git submodule foreach', among others.  I think some people use this
> > > behavior explicitly.
> > >
> > > On the other hand, I've also notice that a submodule which I have
> > > removed does not get de-inited later one.  It causes my 'git submodule
> > > foreach' to emit errors.  :-(
> >
> > I'm currently hacking on "git submodule deinit" which removes the 'url'
> > setting from git/config. This should do the trick for you, right?
> >
> > Just removing that submodule automagically would not work that well, as
> > it would deinitialize a submodule when you switch to a branch where it
> > isn't present and you'd have to reinitialize it when you come back.
> I think this is another case where we should be looping through
> submodules based on the revision-specific .gitmodules content, and
> querying the local config only to determine if the user wants to
> update them (to drop into them with foreach, etc.).



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