Working copies

When you work on Zulip code, there are three copies of the Zulip Git repository that you are generally concerned with:

  • The upstream remote. This is the official Zulip repository on GitHub. You probably don’t have write access to this repository.

  • The origin remote: Your personal remote repository on GitHub. You’ll use this to share your code and create pull requests.

  • local copy: This lives on your laptop or your remote dev instance, and is what you’ll use to make changes and create commits.

When you work on Zulip code, you will end up moving code between the various working copies.


Sometimes you need to get commits. Here are some scenarios:

  • You may fork the official Zulip repository to your GitHub fork.

  • You may fetch commits from the official Zulip repository to your local copy.

  • You occasionally may fetch commits from your forked copy.

Sometimes you want to publish commits. Here are some scenarios:

  • You push code from your local copy to your GitHub fork. (You usually want to put the commit on a feature branch.)

  • You submit a PR to the official Zulip repo.

Finally, the Zulip core team will occasionally want your changes!

  • The Zulip core team can accept your changes and add them to the official repo, usually on the main branch.

Relevant Git commands

The following commands are useful for moving commits between working copies:

  • git fetch: This grabs code from another repository to your local copy. (Defaults to fetching from your default remote, origin).

  • git fetch upstream: This grabs code from the upstream repository to your local copy.

  • git push: This pushes code from your local repository to one of the remotes.

  • git remote: This helps you configure short names for remotes.

  • git pull: This pulls code, but by default creates a merge commit (which you definitely don’t want). However, if you’ve followed our cloning documentation, this will do git pull --rebase instead, which is the only mode you’ll want to use when working on Zulip.