the Chromium logo

The Chromium Projects

ChromiumOS Guide to Working on Branches

This guide covers tips to work with branches. You may need to work on release branches for ChromeOS versions e.g. release-R76-12239.B, or factory and stabilize branches that serve a project-specific purpose e.g. stabilize-nocturne-10986.B.

*** note This applies to commits in ChromiumOS repositories. For changes to Chromium repository branches, see the information about Drover; for Blink, see experimental branches.

Process: When to merge, How to get approval

Check out the Chromium merge request overview for details on branch life-cycle, when to request merges and how to get approval for merging to release branches. For project-specific factory and stabilize branches, a similar process applies, except the approval comes from the kernel/firmware lead or SIE on the project, rather than the ChromeOS TPM managing the release branch.

Merge via Gerrit UI

The Gerrit UI contains a 'Cherry Pick' feature, you may need to click on the ⋮ menu in the top-right to find it. This is currently the easiest way of merging a change that does not have conflicts with the target branch. If the change you want to merge to a branch is already on Gerrit, you need only a browser.

  1. Open up the CL in question on Gerrit.
  2. Select "Cherry Pick" from the ⋮ menu in the top right.
  3. Enter the branch name, for instance release-R58-9334.B. The UI has an autocomplete feature for branch names to help you with this.
  4. Optionally you can edit the commit message, or specify a target git SHA to rebase your cherry-pick on top of (if you want to apply the change on top of a commit that is not the head of your target branch). Reasons for editing the commit message could be changing Cq-Depend directives as appropriate, explaining why the change is needed in the target branch or explaining any modifications or conflict-resolutions made while cherry-picking.
  5. Click "Cherry Pick" at the bottom of the pop up.
  6. This should create a new CL against that branch in Gerrit. To land the CL, mark it ready as usual. See the contributing guide for what votes you need to mark your CL as ready.

Note this only works if the patch applies cleanly on the target branch. Otherwise, if there is a conflict then the merge must be done manually using one of the methods below, or resolved via editing files directly in Gerrit.

To resolve simple conflicts manually in Gerrit:

  1. Cherry-picking via the UI will be interrupted before actually creating the cherry-picked CL.
  2. The UI will offer to create the cherry-picked CL (with conflicts) anyway. Create it.
  3. In the cherry-picked CL, click the "Edit" button to directly edit files that have conflict resolution markers in them (i.e. <<<<<<<), resolving all conflicts.

*** promo Note: When to update ebuilds while merging changes

This works the same way on other branches as it does on ToT. If you're merging a change to code that is built as part of a cros_workon package, or to a .ebuild file for a cros_workon package, the package will be uprev-ed automatically.

If you're changing a non-cros_workon package, you must uprev the corresponding .ebuild file on the branch manually, just as you do when making changes to non-cros_workon packages on ToT.

Merge via Gerrit CLI

The gerrit cherry-pick tool uses the same backend APIs as the Gerrit UI.

gerrit cherry-pick --branches release-R76 1376991

The --branches option supports multiple branches and autocompletion. If there is only one branch that matches release-R76, we will expand to the full name for you.

Multiple CLs can be specified, but they will be cherry-picked independently. This tool cannot be used to cherry-pick stacks of CLs that depend on each other.

Use cros_merge_to_branch tool

The next easiest way to create a change from a change you already committed on ToT in ChromeOS is using cros_merge_to_branch.

Example usage:

cros_merge_to_branch 1376991 release-R76-12239.B

This creates Gerrit changes for R76 from CL 1376991 in less than 10 seconds. After running, you can check Gerrit to actually commit the changes (search your open CLs for R76-* branch). For more advanced usage information, use --help.

You should run with --dry-run the first time around to not actually upload your change until you are sure about how to use the tool. Note this tool accepts either gerrit change numbers or Change-Id's. However, since the former is guaranteed to be unique, it is advised you use those instead.

Check out the whole tree (with repo)

You must have different checkouts (yes, new chroots in a completely new directory) for every branch you are working on. This is to ensure all the prebuilts work automatically for you. You have to pass the -b <branch_name> option to repo during init and you will follow exactly the same workflow described in the ChromiumOS Developer Guide i.e. cros_workon and repo start etc.

If you have an existing repo checkout: You can run repo init with --reference to re-use the objects of your existing checkout, to reduce sync time. Note that an absolute path is required (../../foo won't work) and that it must be the topmost directory of the existing repo checkout, i.e. the one that contains the .repo directory.

You can find the exact name of the branch by browsing the manifest repo.

mkdir release-R76-12239.B
cd release-R76-12239.B/
repo init -u <URL> -b <branchname> [-g minilayout] [--reference /path/to/existing/checkout]
repo sync

Example (See the developer guide if you are doing an internal build and replace the manifest.git link with the appropriate one).

repo init \
    -u \
    -b release-R76-12239.B \

Next, follow steps in the developer guide to sync/edit/modify files i.e repo sync, cros_workon start, repo start, etc. After you've cherry-picked or made the changes you want, upload the changes for review.

Check out a single repository (with repo)

If you don't have a full repo checked out already and want to do a quick one-off merge, you can still check out the much smaller buildtools group:

repo init \
    -u \
    --repo-url \
    -g buildtools

This will get you chromite and all the tools it includes i.e. cros_merge_to_branch. Make sure you pass the --no-mirror option so it will fetch the single git repo needed to cherry-pick & upload the CL.

Checking out a single repository (with git)

If you want to push up a few changes without checking out the entire tree, then you can use git to do just that. You can re-use an existing repo checkout if you like (but make sure you clean up when you're done). Let's assume you're going to make a new checkout to keep things clean though.

Cloning a new repository

Find the git url you care about. You can get it by going into your repo checkout and look at .git/config (the url field). You'll need to use the -review variant of the URL to push to the special refs/for/* refs. Let's demonstrate with the chromite git tree.

git clone

If you want to speed things up, you can use the --reference option to re-use a local tree.

git clone \
    --reference ~/chromiumos/chromite/.git

Setting your author/committer settings

If your normal user information is not your e-mail, you'll need to set it in the new repo.

git config "Awesome Developer"
git config ${USER}

Start a new branch

Let's assume you want to work on the R76 branch.  You need the full name of the branch, and then create a new local branch to work on with that info.

git branch -a | grep R76

That shows us the full branch name is "remotes/cros/release-R76-12239.B", so we can do:

git checkout -b R76 remotes/cros/release-R76-12239.B

Make your changes

This part is where the real work happens. Use git's or repo's cherry-pick feature, or make the changes by hand, or apply patches, or whatever you want.

# When the editor pops, try to change a few attributes to help tracking commit
# history. Change Reviewed-on to Previous-Reviewed-on, and
# add a line like
# `**(cherry picked from commit b9e382afa7e410745ac96b12b49d5a941070db1e).**`
# For changes in different branches, you can keep same Change-Id;
# otherwise remove that to get a new unique Change-Id.
git cherry-pick -x -e <SHA1>

Publish your commits to gerrit

Now for the last step.  If you didn't create a new clone, you might have to change "origin" to "cros", or replace it with the full git url.  The "R76" is whatever you called the local branch, and the "release-R76-12239.B" is exactly what the official branch name is called - make sure it is correct as gerrit will allow you to push to anything.

# for example, if remote is 'origin', your local branch is called 'R76'
# and the branch to merge to is the R76 branch on the ChromeOS server:
git push origin R76:refs/for/release-R76-12239.B

Reusing a single repository in an existing repo checkout

While it is possible to manually checkout a different branch in an existing repo checkout (e.g. checking out release-R69-10895.B in chromite/ when the rest of the manifest is tracking ToT), this is strongly not recommended.

Mixing different branches in git trees in a single repo checkout can easily break existing tools and is not supported. Even if you want to do it as a one off (e.g. checkout a branch, make a change, upload it, and then discard the branch), it's still not recommended as sometimes people forget to clean up when they're done. Depending on the git tree, this can manifest itself days, weeks, or even months later as a weird error in a seemingly unrelated location.

This is why we only support the methods listed above.