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Howto Rename Git Master Branch

 by Ville Säävuori

While Git uses the term master in the sense of “master record”, it's clear that master as a term has connotations to master-slave methaphor which is both technically and historically inaccurate according to The Internet Engineering Task Force. Here's how to rename Git master branch both in your local repository and on GitLab.

1. Rename Git Master Branch

First, rename master and push the change to origin, then update local references to this new name. (I'm using trunk here as the new name but you can use main or whatever you wish. Just change the commands accordingly.)

git checkout master
git branch -m master trunk
git push -u origin trunk

git branch --unset-upstream
git branch -u origin/trunk
git symbolic-ref refs/remotes/origin/HEAD refs/remotes/origin/trunk

2. Change GitLab Default Branch (And Delete master)

Navigate to Settings > Repository and set the new default branch. (In GitHub you'll find the same setting under repository Settings > Branches.)


Lastly you may want to delete the old master branch but you need to remove protected branch status from GitLab before being able to do that. Go to Protected Branches on this same Settings > Repository page and Unprotect the master branch if it's protected. (Don't forget to add the same protections back to the new branch!) Now we can delete the old master branch:

git push origin --delete master

Bonus: Change Default Git Branch For New Repositories

Since Git version 2.28 you can easily set the default branch name for all new repos with a simple command:

git config --global init.defaultBranch trunk

Congrats for participating in making the word just a little bit better place for all of us!

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