GitHub to replace 'master' with 'main' starting next month

All new Git repositories on GitHub will be named "main" instead of "master" starting October 1, 2020.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Starting next month, all new source code repositories created on GitHub will be named "main" instead of "master" as part of the company's effort to remove unnecessary references to slavery and replace them with more inclusive terms.

GitHub repositories are where users and companies store and synchronize their source code projects.

By default, GitHub uses the term "master" for the primary version of a source code repository. Developers make copies of the "master" on their computers into which they add their own code, and then merge the changes back into the "master" repo.

"On Oct. 1, 2020, any new repositories you create will use main as the default branch, instead of master," the company said.

Existing repositories that have "master" set as the default branch will be left as is.

"For existing repositories, renaming the default branch today causes a set of challenges," GitHub explained in a support page published earlier this month, such as having to edit settings for pull requests and modifying security policies.

"By the end of the year, we'll make it seamless for existing repositories to rename their default branch," GitHub said.

"When you rename the branch, we'll retarget your open PRs and draft releases, move your branch protection policies, and more - all automatically."

GitHub promised in June

The company's move is part of a bigger trend in the tech community.

After the brutal death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year, tech companies wanted to show their support for the black community by abandoning non-inclusive terms such as master, slave, blacklist, and whitelist.

Companies and major open source projects like Microsoft, IBMTwitterRed HatMySQL, the Linux kernel, and OpenBSD have agreed to make changes to their technical jargon all through the 2020 summer.

GitHub was one of the first companies to show support for such changes when its CEO revealed in June that they were already looking for a replacement for "master."

The company's announcement earlier this month comes to deliver on its CEO's promise.

Furthermore, the Git project, which is the base software on which GitHub was built, has also announced similar plans to at least provide repository owners with the option to customize their default repository branch going forward.

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