This is a companion to an ancient thread

in which an error was dealt with while pushing into a "mirror"
repository that has a symbolic reference refs/remotes/origin/HEAD
pointing at refs/remotes/origin/master with "git push --mirror".
The issue was that the receiving end was told to update origin/HEAD
and origin/master separately; if origin/HEAD is updated, that would
update origin/master at the same time, and then when attempting to
update origin/master, it would notice that it no longer has the
expected old value and barf.  After the series, we started ignoring
such pushes to HEAD on the receiving end.

But you can suffer from a similar issue transferring objects in the
opposite direction.  If you run "fetch --mirror" in to such a
"mirror" repository, the other side would advertise both 'master'
and 'HEAD' under refs/remotes/origin/ hierarchy, and refs/*:refs/*
wildcard would try to grab both of them.

Work it around by noticing a wildcard match that attempts to update
a local symbolic ref and ignoring it.

Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>

 * While I do not think it is sane to have symbolic refs in the
   receiving ref hierarchy (e.g. refs/remotes/origin/) that has a
   matching ref in the corresponding ref hierarchy in the sending
   side (e.g. the same, or refs/heads/ if you are doing a mirror) in
   the first place, we addressed the issue brought by such a setting
   on the push side, so it is probably a good idea to do it on the
   fetch side.

   This is marked RFC as it cheats by ignoring symrefs that were not
   explicitly asked, instead of doing the "is the underlying thing
   going to be updated with the same operation?" logic the old patch
   did in da3efdb (receive-pack: detect aliased updates which can
   occur with symrefs, 2010-04-19). I think this simpler logic is
   sufficient but there may be corner cases that merit the more
   elaborate one, hence RFC.

 remote.c | 13 ++++++++++++-
 1 file changed, 12 insertions(+), 1 deletion(-)

diff --git i/remote.c w/remote.c
index 6aa49c0..ca1f8f2 100644
--- i/remote.c
+++ w/remote.c
@@ -1370,6 +1370,16 @@ int branch_merge_matches(struct branch *branch,
        return refname_match(branch->merge[i]->src, refname, ref_fetch_rules);
+static int ignore_symref_update(const char *refname)
+       unsigned char sha1[20];
+       int flag;
+       if (!resolve_ref_unsafe(refname, sha1, 0, &flag))
+               return 0; /* non-existing refs are OK */
+       return (flag & REF_ISSYMREF);
 static struct ref *get_expanded_map(const struct ref *remote_refs,
                                    const struct refspec *refspec)
@@ -1383,7 +1393,8 @@ static struct ref *get_expanded_map(const struct ref 
                if (strchr(ref->name, '^'))
                        continue; /* a dereference item */
                if (match_name_with_pattern(refspec->src, ref->name,
-                                           refspec->dst, &expn_name)) {
+                                           refspec->dst, &expn_name) &&
+                   !ignore_symref_update(expn_name)) {
                        struct ref *cpy = copy_ref(ref);
                        cpy->peer_ref = alloc_ref(expn_name);
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