I love Git. But msysgit, while not horrible, could be a lot better.

For example, there’s an extension called git-cheetah. When you install msysgit, that’s one of the questions for you to answer, and it’s asked in a nicely slanted way:

  • Simple context menu (Registry based)
  • Advanced context menu (git-cheetah plugin)

I’ve found people who say “avoid this like the plague”, and others who use it. It actually took a little while to find out that this is shell integration a la TortoiseSVN. Shell integration is wonderful, except when it breaks, and it’s just complex enough that most people can’t troubleshoot it to fix the problem.

And it’s really something that you could ignore. Do you use context menus while developing? If not, then this choice is irrelevant. If you do use context menus, then (1) they need to always work, and (2) you should be able to use either or both.

Another issue with msysgit is the dreadful out-of-the-box performance with ssh connections. This is particularly bad because ssh is a very common way to connect to remote git repositories; it’s quite nearly the default for pushing to remote repositories. So you’d think that, of all the things to make sure worked well, it would be SSH. But if you want good SSH, you need to drag PuTTY in and use pagent and plink.

There’s little every written about msysgit, I don’t know much about how it’s developed or what choices are made. On the other hand, the main Git development is about as visible as you can be.

Another reason I feel awkward about msysgit is that there’s a lot of whinging on the part of the main developer; at least as of several years ago, he clashed with the Git mainline developers, and was pretty rude and insulting to boot. I mean, irrespective of who’s right and wrong, you don’t cut off your oxygen. If you’re dependent on someone, you want them to look favorably on you.

I really wish that the mainline Git developers would take a more cross-platform approach and mindset, but they are Linux developers first and foremost. It’s not surprising, given that Git’s parent was Linus Torvalds; I definitely wouldn’t expect him to care about Windows or Mac. However, Git is becoming the best revision control system on the planet, and a lot of people use Windows and Mac machines, and they aren’t going to switch just because of Git.

We need a first-class Windows client for Git, but it has to be part of the mainline development, it can’t be some parallel development process. Those always start out well, and then die after a year or so.

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