Chapter 3. The Working Copy

The working copy is a copy of the FreeBSD repository documentation tree downloaded onto the local computer. Changes are made to the local working copy, tested, and then submitted as patches to be committed to the main repository.

A full copy of the documentation tree can occupy 550 megabytes of disk space. Allow for a full gigabyte of space to have room for temporary files and test versions of various output formats.

Git is used to manage the FreeBSD documentation files. It is obtained by installing the devel/git package, which also has a lighter flavor called git-lite:

# pkg install git-lite

3.1. Documentation and Manual Pages

FreeBSD documentation is not just books and articles. Manual pages for all the commands and configuration files are also part of the documentation, and part of the FDP’s territory. Two repositories are involved: doc for the books and articles, and src for the operating system and manual pages. To edit manual pages, the src repository must be checked out separately.

Repositories may contain multiple versions of documentation and source code. New modifications are almost always made only to the latest version, called main.

3.2. Choosing a Directory

FreeBSD documentation is traditionally stored in /usr/doc/, and system source code with manual pages in /usr/src/. These directory trees are relocatable, and users may want to put the working copies in other locations to avoid interfering with existing information in the main directories. The examples that follow use ~/doc and ~/src, both subdirectories of the user’s home directory.

3.3. Checking Out a Copy

A download of a working copy from the repository is called a clone, and done with git clone. This example clones a copy of the latest version (main) of the main documentation tree:

% git clone ~/doc

A checkout of the source code to work on manual pages is very similar:

% git clone ~/src

3.4. Updating a Working Copy

The documents and files in the FreeBSD repository change daily. People modify files and commit changes frequently. Even a short time after an initial checkout, there will already be differences between the local working copy and the main FreeBSD repository. To update the local version with the changes that have been made to the main repository, use git pull on the directory containing the local working copy:

% cd ~/doc
% git pull --ff-only

Get in the protective habit of using git pull before editing document files. Someone else may have edited that file very recently, and the local working copy will not include the latest changes until it has been updated. Editing the newest version of a file is much easier than trying to combine an older, edited local file with the newer version from the repository.

3.5. Reverting Changes

Sometimes it turns out that changes were not necessary after all, or the writer just wants to start over. Files can be "reset" to their unchanged form with git restore. For example, to erase the edits made to _index.adoc and reset it to unmodified form:

% git restore _index.adoc

3.6. Making a Diff

After edits to a file or group of files are completed, the differences between the local working copy and the version on the FreeBSD repository must be collected into a single file for submission. These diff files are produced by redirecting the output of git diff into a file:

% cd ~/doc
% git diff > doc-fix-spelling.diff

Give the file a meaningful name that identifies the contents. The example above is for spelling fixes to the whole documentation tree.

If the diff file is to be submitted with the web "Submit a FreeBSD problem report" interface, add a .txt extension to give the earnest and simple-minded web form a clue that the contents are plain text.

Be careful: git diff includes all changes made in the current directory and any subdirectories. If there are files in the working copy with edits that are not ready to be submitted yet, provide a list of only the files that are to be included:

% cd ~/doc
% git diff disks/_index.adoc printers/_index.adoc > disks-printers.diff

3.7. Git References

These examples show very basic usage of Git. More detail is available in the Git Book and the Git documentation.

Last modified on: March 9, 2024 by Danilo G. Baio