Git vs. Mercurial: Why the Linux Community Chose Git After BitKeeper's License Change

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Git vs. Mercurial: Why the Linux Community Chose Git After BitKeeper's License Change

Learn why they chose Git over Mercurial and how it was better suited for their needs.

Syed Jafer K's photo
Syed Jafer K
·Jan 22, 2023·

2 min read

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Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • What was in mind when GIT was created?
  • What was in mind when Mercurial was created?
  • Conclusion


When BitMover, the company that developed BitKeeper, changed the terms of the free version of its license agreement in 2005, the Linux community, led by Linus Torvalds, was looking for a replacement version control system. While Andrew Tridgell had developed Mercurial as a free and open-source alternative to BitKeeper, Linus Torvalds and other members of the Linux community decided to develop their own version control system, Git.

What was in mind when GIT was created?

Git was designed to be similar to BitKeeper in functionality, but it was released under an open-source license. This made it suitable for the Linux community, which values open-source software. Additionally, Git was developed by Linus Torvalds himself and other Linux developers, which made it more suitable for Linux kernel development.

Git was specifically designed to meet the needs of the Linux kernel development process, which involves large numbers of developers working on a large codebase with frequent releases. It was also designed to be fast, efficient, and able to handle large binary files.

Git is designed to be distributed and decentralized, which allows multiple developers to work on the same codebase simultaneously, and it allows them to easily share their changes with each other. Git also has a powerful branching and merging feature which makes it easy for developers to work on multiple features or bug fixes at the same time, and it allows them to easily merge their changes back into the main codebase.

What was in mind when Mercurial was created?

Mercurial is a great version control system, but at that time, the Linux community chose to use Git because it was developed by the community itself, and it was more suitable for their needs. Moreover, Git's development was closely tied to the Linux kernel development, which made it easier to adopt and integrate with the Linux development process.


In short, Git and Mercurial are both distributed version control systems, but they were developed for different purposes and by different groups of people, and that's why Linus Torvalds and other Linux developers choose to use Git.

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