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<body class="article">
<div id="header">
<h1>How to use a signed tag in pull requests</h1>
</div>
<div id="content">
<div id="preamble">
<div class="sectionbody">
<div class="paragraph"><p>A typical distributed workflow using Git is for a contributor to fork a
project, build on it, publish the result to her public repository, and ask
the "upstream" person (often the owner of the project where she forked
from) to pull from her public repository. Requesting such a "pull" is made
easy by the <code>git request-pull</code> command.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>Earlier, a typical pull request may have started like this:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> The following changes since commit 406da78032179...:
Froboz 3.2 (2011-09-30 14:20:57 -0700)
are available in the Git repository at:
example.com:/git/froboz.git for-xyzzy</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>followed by a shortlog of the changes and a diffstat.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>The request was for a branch name (e.g. <code>for-xyzzy</code>) in the public
repository of the contributor, and even though it stated where the
contributor forked her work from, the message did not say anything about
the commit to expect at the tip of the for-xyzzy branch. If the site that
hosts the public repository of the contributor cannot be fully trusted, it
was unnecessarily hard to make sure what was pulled by the integrator was
genuinely what the contributor had produced for the project. Also there
was no easy way for third-party auditors to later verify the resulting
history.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>Starting from Git release v1.7.9, a contributor can add a signed tag to
the commit at the tip of the history and ask the integrator to pull that
signed tag. When the integrator runs <code>git pull</code>, the signed tag is
automatically verified to assure that the history is not tampered with.
In addition, the resulting merge commit records the content of the signed
tag, so that other people can verify that the branch merged by the
integrator was signed by the contributor, without fetching the signed tag
used to validate the pull request separately and keeping it in the refs
namespace.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>This document describes the workflow between the contributor and the
integrator, using Git v1.7.9 or later.</p></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sect1">
<h2 id="_a_contributor_or_a_lieutenant">A contributor or a lieutenant</h2>
<div class="sectionbody">
<div class="paragraph"><p>After preparing her work to be pulled, the contributor uses <code>git tag -s</code>
to create a signed tag:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> $ git checkout work
$ ... "git pull" from sublieutenants, "git commit" your own work ...
$ git tag -s -m "Completed frotz feature" frotz-for-xyzzy work</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>Note that this example uses the <code>-m</code> option to create a signed tag with
just a one-liner message, but this is for illustration purposes only. It
is advisable to compose a well-written explanation of what the topic does
to justify why it is worthwhile for the integrator to pull it, as this
message will eventually become part of the final history after the
integrator responds to the pull request (as we will see later).</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>Then she pushes the tag out to her public repository:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> $ git push example.com:/git/froboz.git/ +frotz-for-xyzzy</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>There is no need to push the <code>work</code> branch or anything else.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>Note that the above command line used a plus sign at the beginning of
<code>+frotz-for-xyzzy</code> to allow forcing the update of a tag, as the same
contributor may want to reuse a signed tag with the same name after the
previous pull request has already been responded to.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>The contributor then prepares a message to request a "pull":</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> $ git request-pull v3.2 example.com:/git/froboz.git/ frotz-for-xyzzy &gt;msg.txt</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>The arguments are:</p></div>
<div class="olist arabic"><ol class="arabic">
<li>
<p>
the version of the integrator&#8217;s commit the contributor based her work on;
</p>
</li>
<li>
<p>
the URL of the repository, to which the contributor has pushed what she
wants to get pulled; and
</p>
</li>
<li>
<p>
the name of the tag the contributor wants to get pulled (earlier, she could
write only a branch name here).
</p>
</li>
</ol></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>The resulting msg.txt file begins like so:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> The following changes since commit 406da78032179...:
Froboz 3.2 (2011-09-30 14:20:57 -0700)
are available in the Git repository at:
example.com:/git/froboz.git tags/frotz-for-xyzzy
for you to fetch changes up to 703f05ad5835c...:
Add tests and documentation for frotz (2011-12-02 10:02:52 -0800)
-----------------------------------------------
Completed frotz feature
-----------------------------------------------</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>followed by a shortlog of the changes and a diffstat. Comparing this with
the earlier illustration of the output from the traditional <code>git request-pull</code>
command, the reader should notice that:</p></div>
<div class="olist arabic"><ol class="arabic">
<li>
<p>
The tip commit to expect is shown to the integrator; and
</p>
</li>
<li>
<p>
The signed tag message is shown prominently between the dashed lines
before the shortlog.
</p>
</li>
</ol></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>The latter is why the contributor would want to justify why pulling her
work is worthwhile when creating the signed tag. The contributor then
opens her favorite MUA, reads msg.txt, edits and sends it to her upstream
integrator.</p></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sect1">
<h2 id="_integrator">Integrator</h2>
<div class="sectionbody">
<div class="paragraph"><p>After receiving such a pull request message, the integrator fetches and
integrates the tag named in the request, with:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> $ git pull example.com:/git/froboz.git/ tags/frotz-for-xyzzy</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>This operation will always open an editor to allow the integrator to fine
tune the commit log message when merging a signed tag. Also, pulling a
signed tag will always create a merge commit even when the integrator does
not have any new commit since the contributor&#8217;s work forked (i.e. <em>fast
forward</em>), so that the integrator can properly explain what the merge is
about and why it was made.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>In the editor, the integrator will see something like this:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> Merge tag 'frotz-for-xyzzy' of example.com:/git/froboz.git/
Completed frotz feature
# gpg: Signature made Fri 02 Dec 2011 10:03:01 AM PST using RSA key ID 96AFE6CB
# gpg: Good signature from "Con Tributor &lt;nitfol@example.com&gt;"</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>Notice that the message recorded in the signed tag "Completed frotz
feature" appears here, and again that is why it is important for the
contributor to explain her work well when creating the signed tag.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>As usual, the lines commented with <code>#</code> are stripped out. The resulting
commit records the signed tag used for this validation in a hidden field
so that it can later be used by others to audit the history. There is no
need for the integrator to keep a separate copy of the tag in his
repository (i.e. <code>git tag -l</code> won&#8217;t list the <code>frotz-for-xyzzy</code> tag in the
above example), and there is no need to publish the tag to his public
repository, either.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>After the integrator responds to the pull request and her work becomes
part of the permanent history, the contributor can remove the tag from
her public repository, if she chooses, in order to keep the tag namespace
of her public repository clean, with:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> $ git push example.com:/git/froboz.git :frotz-for-xyzzy</code></pre>
</div></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sect1">
<h2 id="_auditors">Auditors</h2>
<div class="sectionbody">
<div class="paragraph"><p>The <code>--show-signature</code> option can be given to <code>git log</code> or <code>git show</code> and
shows the verification status of the embedded signed tag in merge commits
created when the integrator responded to a pull request of a signed tag.</p></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>A typical output from <code>git show --show-signature</code> may look like this:</p></div>
<div class="listingblock">
<div class="content">
<pre><code> $ git show --show-signature
commit 02306ef6a3498a39118aef9df7975bdb50091585
merged tag 'frotz-for-xyzzy'
gpg: Signature made Fri 06 Jan 2012 12:41:49 PM PST using RSA key ID 96AFE6CB
gpg: Good signature from "Con Tributor &lt;nitfol@example.com&gt;"
Merge: 406da78 703f05a
Author: Inte Grator &lt;xyzzy@example.com&gt;
Date: Tue Jan 17 13:49:41 2012 -0800
Merge tag 'frotz-for-xyzzy' of example.com:/git/froboz.git/
Completed frotz feature
* tag 'frotz-for-xyzzy' (100 commits)
Add tests and documentation for frotz
...</code></pre>
</div></div>
<div class="paragraph"><p>There is no need for the auditor to explicitly fetch the contributor&#8217;s
signature, or to even be aware of what tag(s) the contributor and integrator
used to communicate the signature. All the required information is recorded
as part of the merge commit.</p></div>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div id="footnotes"><hr /></div>
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2019-02-19 15:23:45 PST
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