Merging multiple git repositories to a monorepo

A few weeks ago we started a small project for a new customer in our usual pattern: several components, each with their own repository and respective CI. However, it quickly became evident that this introduced orchestration overhead without any benefit: no versioning, no reuse, just a few components that had to be bundled into one project for one customer.
The whole project kept chanting one word: monorepo!


  • One of the existing repositories becomes the new monorepo
  • No history rewrite in the main repository
  • Preserve commit history of all repositories
  • Subproject repositories will reside in their own subfolder


  • Order commits by date and interlace commits of formally different repositories would require a few more steps and creating a new repository / completely rewrite the history. That’s just due to the way git works.
  • You may need to fix a few things like your CI afterwards.

1 . Prepare repositories that will be merged

As a first step we move every file in each repository that we want to merge to a new subfolder. That’s just a neat trick to prevent merge conflicts. In order to do that you have to make sure there are no uncommitted changes first.

Say we want to call our subfolder “subproject”

git filter-branch --tree-filter 'mkdir subproject &&
  find . -mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1 ! -name subproject -exec mv {} subproject/ \;' HEAD

This will modify each commit in the following fashion:

  • Create a folder named “subproject”
  • List all files in the root directory (-mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1)
  • Ignore the newly created “subproject” folder
  • Move all other files the new “subproject” folder

2. Add repository to be merged as remote in monorepo

In the monorepo we need to add the repository of the subproject as new remote. Note that the remote can be a files system location, so we don’t need to push the repository of the subproject (which would require a force push).

git remote add subproject /full/path/to/subproject-repo
git fetch subproject

To conclude this step we fetch the new remote. Double check that you don’t pull a this point.

3. Cherry-pick commits from subproject

We could now call git log subproject/master and cherry-pick each commit we want to include in our monorepo. But of course it’s easier and less error-prone to write a script for that ;)

#!/bin/env bash

if [[ -z $1 ]]; then
    echo "Usage $(basename $0) <remote-name>"

echo "About to replay commits from remote $1"
read -p "Press enter key to continue, CTRL+C to abort" < /dev/tty

while read sha
    subject="$(git log "$sha" --format=format:"%s")"
    echo "About to cherry-pick $sha"
    echo "$subject"

    read -n 1 -s -r -p "Press s to skip, any to continue, CTRL+C to abort" key < /dev/tty
    if [ "$key" == "s" ]; then
        echo "Skipping..."
    git cherry-pick "$sha" || exit 1

done <<< "$(git log --reverse $1/master --format=format:"%H")"

Save that script outside our monorepo (to avoid uncommitted changes) and make it executable. It expects our remote name as it’s only argument.

Before each commit is cherry-picked we see the SHA of the commit and the first line of the commit message and get to decide what happens:

  • Press s to skip
  • CTRL+C to stop
  • Any other key to apply the commit

This might be impractical for long commit histories, but in my case it conveniently allowed me to alter a commit using GitKraken before applying the next commit.

4. Repeat with other subprojects

Once we’re done with all subprojects we’ll have a new repository that combines all old repositories into one neat monorepo and all commits replayed to preserve their history.

Written on October 15, 2018
Load Disqus comments.
By clicking you agree to the Disqus Privacy Policy.