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Tools for working with upstream repositories

Project description

git river

git-river is a tool designed to make it easier to work with large numbers of GitHub and GitLab projects and "forking" workflow that involve pulling changes from "upstream" repositories and pushing to "downstream" repositories.

git-river will manage a "workspace" path you configure, cloning repositories into that directory with a tree-style structure organised by domain, project namespace, and project name.

$ tree ~/workspace
│   └── datto
│       └── git-river
    └── datto
        └── git-river



git-river requires Python 3.9 or above.

pip3 install git-river


Run git-river <subcommand>. Git's builtin aliasing also allows you to run git river instead.

Before you can use git-river you must configure a workspace path by running git-river init PATH or setting the GIT_RIVER_WORKSPACE environment variable. This should point to a directory git-river can use to clone git repositories into.

Several commands will attempt to discover various names, and usually have an option flag to override discovery.

  • The "upstream" remote is the first of upstream or origin that exists. Override with --upstream.
  • The "downstream" remote is the first of downstream that exists. Override with --downstream.
  • The "mainline" branch is the first of main or master that exists. Override with --mainline.


  • git river clone URL... clones a repository into the workspace path.

  • git river config manages the configuration file.

    • git river config display prints the loaded configuration as JSON. Credentials are redacted.
    • git river config init creates an initial config file.
    • git river config workspace prints the workspace path.
  • git river forge manages repositories listed by GitHub and GitLab.

    • git river forge runs the clone + archived + configure + remotes subcommands.
    • git river forge clone clones repositories.
    • git river forge configure sets git config options.
    • git river forge fetch fetches each git remote.
    • git river forge list displays remote repositories that will be cloned.
    • git river forge remotes sets upstream+downstream or origin remotes.
    • git river forge tidy deletes branches merged into the mainline branch.
    • git river forge archived lists archived repositories that exist locally.
  • git river also provides some "loose" subcommands that work on the repository in the current directory, mostly matching the features from the forge subcommand.

    • git river fetch fetches all git remotes.
    • git river merge creates the merge result of all feature/* branches.
    • git river tidy deletes branches merged into the mainline branch.
    • git river restart rebases the current branch from the upstream remotes mainline branch.


Configuration is a JSON object read from ~/.config/git-river/config.json. Run git-river config init to create an example configuration file.

  • path - path to a directory to use as the "workspace".
  • forges - a map of forges.

Forges have the following options. Only type is required - the default configuration is to use the main public GitHub or GitLab domain without authentication.

  • type (required) - The type of the instance, either github or gitlab.
  • base_url (optional) - Base url of the instance. Should not include a trailing slash.
    • Default for GitHub instances is
    • Default for GitLab instances is
  • login_or_token (optional, GitHub only) - Authentication token.
  • private_token (optional, GitLab only) - Authentication token.
  • gitconfig (default: {}) - A key-value map of git config options to set on repositories.
  • groups (default: []) - Include repositories from specific groups.
  • users (default: []) - Include repositories from specific users.
  • self (default: true) - Automatically include the authenticated user's repositories.


  "workspace": "~/Development",
  "forges": {
    "gitlab": {
      "type": "gitlab",
      "base_url": "",
      "private_token": "...",
      "groups": [],
      "users": [],
      "self": true,
      "gitconfig": {
        "": "user+gitlab@example.invalid"
    "github": {
      "type": "github",
      "login_or_token": "...",
      "groups": [],
      "users": [],
      "gitconfig": {
        "": "user+github@example.invalid"


Poetry is used to develop, build, and package git-river. Poetry's documentation describes how to install it on your OS. Once you've installed it, create a virtual environment containing git-river and it's dependencies with poetry install.

You can then run the local version of the CLI with poetry run git-river.

Code is formatted using black, run with poetry run black git_river.

Types are checked using mypy, run with poetry run mypy git_river.

Tests are written using pytest, run with poetry run pytest.

# Download the project and install dependencies
git clone
cd git-river
poetry install

# Use the local version of the CLI
poetry run git-river ...

# Test, lint and format code
poetry run black git_river
poetry run mypy git_river
poetry run pytest


Licensed under the Mozilla Public License Version 2.0.

Copyright Datto, Inc.

Authored by Sam Clements.

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