I recently had a need to rewrite a git repository’s history. This isn’t generally a very good idea, though it is useful if your repository contains files it should not (such as unneeded large binary files or copyrighted material). I also am using it because I had a branch where I only wanted to merge a subset of files back into master (though there are probably better ways of doing this). Anyway, it is not very hard to rewrite history thanks to the excellent git-filter-branch tool which comes with git. However, if your goal was to reduce a large repository’s size then git-filter-branch does not quite finish the job since it makes temporary backups of the filtered out files. To remove those, you need to do a little more work. To make it easier to permanently remove files, I wrapped it in a little bash script git-remove-history (also shown below) — simply go to the root of your repository and run the script with the list of files you want to delete and it will do the rest. There is an interesting thread about doing this here on KernelTrap.
#!/bin/bash set -o errexit # Author: David Underhill # Script to permanently delete files/folders from your git repository. To use # it, cd to your repository's root and then run the script with a list of paths # you want to delete, e.g., git-delete-history path1 path2 if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then exit 0 fi # make sure we're at the root of git repo if [ ! -d .git ]; then echo "Error: must run this script from the root of a git repository" exit 1 fi # remove all paths passed as arguments from the history of the repo files=$@ git filter-branch --index-filter "git rm -rf --cached --ignore-unmatch $files" HEAD # remove the temporary history git-filter-branch otherwise leaves behind for a long time rm -rf .git/refs/original/ && git reflog expire --all && git gc --aggressive --prune