list mirror (unofficial, one of many)
 help / color / mirror / Atom feed
From: Johannes Schindelin <>
To: "SZEDER Gábor" <>
Cc: Aleksey Mikhaylov <>,
	"" <>
Subject: Re: Issue: "Could not access submodule" error when pulling recursively with Git 2.22.0
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2019 14:41:22 +0200 (CEST)
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

[-- Attachment #1: Type: text/plain, Size: 9313 bytes --]

Hi Gábor,

On Wed, 23 Oct 2019, SZEDER Gábor wrote:

> On Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 07:22:12AM +0000, Aleksey Mikhaylov wrote:
> > "Could not access submodule" error when pulling recursively with Git 2.22.0.
> > This issue causes if there is submodule in submodule.
> > Please use my simple test repository to reproduce the problem:
> >
> >
> > It is just an empty repository with one submodule (
> > and one submodule of submodule (
> >
> > git clone
> > cd example2361/
> > git submodule init
> According to the docs of 'git submodule init', it "initializes the
> submodules recorded in the index".  Therefore, it can only initialize
> the submodule in 'example2361M1', because at this point we have no
> idea that there is a nested submodule in there.
>   $ git submodule init
>   Submodule 'example2361M1' ( registered for path 'example2361M1'

Indeed, `git submodule init` is not recursive.

> > git submodule update
> This command clones 'example2361M1':
>   $ git submodule update --recursive
>   Cloning into '/tmp/example2361/example2361M1'...
>   Submodule path 'example2361M1': checked out '6a9be24a1c0ebd44d91ae4dcf1fd62580b936540'
> Only at this point can we finally see that there is a nested
> submodule, and can initialize and clone it with:
>   $ cd example2361M1
>   $ git submodule init
>   Submodule 'example2361M2' ( registered for path 'example2361M2'
>   $ git submodule update
>   Cloning into '/tmp/example2361/example2361M1/example2361M2'...
>   Submodule path 'example2361M2': checked out '9ed39cf1fe0a8cf34e72d2e7ebff1ea9d4a63ac1'

I concur.

> > git pull --recurse-submodules=true
> And after that:
>   $ cd ../..
>   $ git pull --recurse-submodules=true
>   Fetching submodule example2361M1
>   Fetching submodule example2361M1/example2361M2
>   Already up to date.

Yes, I agree that _probably_ what the user wanted is to initialize the
submodules recursively.

Having said that, I vaguely remember that e.g. Boost has this insane
forest of submodules, and I am almost certain that no sane person wants
to clone them all. _I_ wouldn't.

> >
> > "git --recurse-submodules=true" command fails with message "Could not access submodule":
> >
> > $ git --recurse-submodules=true
> > Fetching submodule example2361M1
> > Could not access submodule 'example2361M2'
> >
> >
> > All submodules are successfully updated by "git --recurse-submodules=true" command.
> >
> >
> > Git version 2.20.1 does not have this problem.
> > So we had to downgrade Git to work with submodules.
> The behavior was indeed different with v2.20.1, but that version
> didn't show the behavior you expected.  When running your commands
> with v2.20.1 I get:
>   $ ~/src/git/bin-wrappers/git pull --recurse-submodules=true
>   Fetching submodule example2361M1
>   Already up to date.
>   $ find example2361M1/example2361M2/
>   example2361M1/example2361M2/
> So while that 'git pull' didn't error out, it didn't even look at the
> nested submodule, which is still uninitialized and empty.

I would actually argue that this is what is expected: the entire _point_
of submodules is that they can be inactive.

Coming back to the Boost example, what I would want Git to do when only
a fraction of the submodules is active is to skip the inactive ones
during a `git pull --recurse-submodules=true`.

Which v2.20.1 apparently did, and I would call the current behavior a

> FWIW, bisecting shows that the behavior changed with commit
> a62387b3fc,

Thanks for digging this out!

> but, unfortunately, the commit message doesn't seem to be very helpful
> to me, but perhaps others with more experience with submodules can
> make something out of it.
> commit a62387b3fc9f5aeeb04a2db278121d33a9caafa7
> Author: Stefan Beller <>
> Date:   Wed Nov 28 16:27:55 2018 -0800
>     submodule.c: fetch in submodules git directory instead of in worktree
>     Keep the properties introduced in 10f5c52656 (submodule: avoid
>     auto-discovery in prepare_submodule_repo_env(), 2016-09-01), by fixating
>     the git directory of the submodule.
>     Signed-off-by: Stefan Beller <>
>     Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>
>  submodule.c | 10 ++++++++--
>  1 file changed, 8 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

To me, this commit message suggests that the bahvior should not have
changed in the reported manner.

Let's look at the diff:

-- snip --
diff --git a/submodule.c b/submodule.c
index 77ace5e784a..d1b6646f42d 100644
--- a/submodule.c
+++ b/submodule.c
@@ -494,6 +494,12 @@ void prepare_submodule_repo_env(struct argv_array *out)

+static void prepare_submodule_repo_env_in_gitdir(struct argv_array *out)
+	prepare_submodule_repo_env_no_git_dir(out);
+	argv_array_pushf(out, "%s=.", GIT_DIR_ENVIRONMENT);
 /* Helper function to display the submodule header line prior to the full
  * summary output. If it can locate the submodule objects directory it will
  * attempt to lookup both the left and right commits and put them into the
@@ -1327,8 +1333,8 @@ static int get_next_submodule(struct child_process *cp,
 		repo = get_submodule_repo_for(spf->r, submodule);
 		if (repo) {
-			cp->dir = xstrdup(repo->worktree);
-			prepare_submodule_repo_env(&cp->env_array);
+			cp->dir = xstrdup(repo->gitdir);
+			prepare_submodule_repo_env_in_gitdir(&cp->env_array);
 			cp->git_cmd = 1;
 			if (!spf->quiet)
 				strbuf_addf(err, "Fetching submodule %s%s\n",
-- snap --

The obvious difference in behavior is that we no longer let Git
discover the `.git` file/directory, but we define it (because we can).

But actually, we cannot, not if the submodule is not checked out!
Because in this case, there is no `.git` file and Git then tries to
initialize the repository and the worktree, and fails rather miserably
in the reported manner.

Side note: I think there is something spooky going on where we try to
fetch submodules twice when the first time failed, and somehow slip into
the `else` arm of this code:

-- snip --
		task->repo = get_submodule_repo_for(spf->r, task->sub);
		if (task->repo) {
			struct strbuf submodule_prefix = STRBUF_INIT;
			cp->dir = task->repo->gitdir;
			cp->git_cmd = 1;
			if (!spf->quiet)
				strbuf_addf(err, "Fetching submodule %s%s\n",
					    spf->prefix, ce->name);
			argv_array_pushv(&cp->args, spf->args.argv);
			argv_array_push(&cp->args, default_argv);
			argv_array_push(&cp->args, "--submodule-prefix");

			strbuf_addf(&submodule_prefix, "%s%s/",
			argv_array_push(&cp->args, submodule_prefix.buf);

			*task_cb = task;

			return 1;
		} else {


			 * An empty directory is normal,
			 * the submodule is not initialized
			if (S_ISGITLINK(ce->ce_mode) &&
			    !is_empty_dir(ce->name)) {
				spf->result = 1;
					    _("Could not access submodule '%s'"),
-- snap --

As you can see, at that point, `is_empty_dir()` indicates that it is _no
longer empty_, which means that the recursive pull actually tried to
initialize it, and left things in a half-consistent state.

BTW I also think that Stefan's commit just made a bug very obvious that
had not mattered all that much before: it would seem that before that
commit, when the code tried to fetch a submodule, it would actually
fetch the super project (because it would discover the .git
file/directory, and as the inactive submodule does not have any, it
would have found the super project's).

In essence, I think that the report points out a very real bug, and this
bug should be fixed.

I _could_ imagine that it would be as easy as applying this patch (and
turning the provided reproducer into a regression test), then polishing
this with a nice commit message:

-- snip --
diff --git a/submodule.c b/submodule.c
index 0f199c51378..5694905610a 100644
--- a/submodule.c
+++ b/submodule.c
@@ -1443,6 +1443,12 @@ static int get_next_submodule(struct child_process *cp,
 		task->repo = get_submodule_repo_for(spf->r, task->sub);
 		if (task->repo) {
 			struct strbuf submodule_prefix = STRBUF_INIT;
+			/* skip uninitialized submodule */
+			if (!file_exists(task->repo->gitdir) ||
+			    is_empty_dir(task->repo->gitdir))
+				continue;
 			cp->dir = task->repo->gitdir;
-- snap --

Any takers?


      reply	other threads:[~2019-10-25 12:41 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 3+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2019-10-23  7:22 Aleksey Mikhaylov
2019-10-23 10:04 ` SZEDER Gábor
2019-10-25 12:41   ` Johannes Schindelin [this message]

Reply instructions:

You may reply publicly to this message via plain-text email
using any one of the following methods:

* Save the following mbox file, import it into your mail client,
  and reply-to-all from there: mbox

  Avoid top-posting and favor interleaved quoting:

  List information:

* Reply using the --to, --cc, and --in-reply-to
  switches of git-send-email(1):

  git send-email \ \ \ \ \ \

* If your mail client supports setting the In-Reply-To header
  via mailto: links, try the mailto: link list mirror (unofficial, one of many)

This inbox may be cloned and mirrored by anyone:

	git clone --mirror
	git clone --mirror http://ou63pmih66umazou.onion/git
	git clone --mirror http://czquwvybam4bgbro.onion/git
	git clone --mirror http://hjrcffqmbrq6wope.onion/git

	# If you have public-inbox 1.1+ installed, you may
	# initialize and index your mirror using the following commands:
	public-inbox-init -V1 git git/ \
	public-inbox-index git

Example config snippet for mirrors.
Newsgroups are available over NNTP:
 note: .onion URLs require Tor:

code repositories for the project(s) associated with this inbox:

AGPL code for this site: git clone