Bazaar in five minutes


Bazaar is a distributed version control system that makes it easier for people to work together on software projects.

Over the next five minutes, you’ll learn how to put your files under version control, how to record changes to them, examine your work, publish it and send your work for merger into a project’s trunk.

If you’d prefer a more detailed introduction, take a look at Learning More.


This guide doesn’t describe how to install Bazaar but it’s usually very easy. You can find installation instructions at:

For other platforms and to install from source code, see the Download and Installation pages.

Introducing yourself

Before you start working, it is good to tell Bazaar who you are. That way your work is properly identified in revision logs.

Using your name and email address, instead of John Doe’s, type:

$ bzr whoami "John Doe <>"

Bazaar will now create or modify a configuration file, including your name and email address.

Now, check that your name and email address are correctly registered:

$ bzr whoami
John Doe <>

Putting files under version control

Let’s create a directory and some files to use with Bazaar:

$ mkdir myproject
$ cd myproject
$ mkdir subdirectory
$ touch test1.txt test2.txt test3.txt subdirectory/test4.txt

Note for Windows users: use Windows Explorer to create your directories, then right-click in those directories and select New file to create your files.

Now get Bazaar to initialize itself in your project directory:

$ bzr init

If it looks like nothing happened, don’t worry. Bazaar has created a branch where it will store your files and their revision histories.

The next step is to tell Bazaar which files you want to track. Running bzr add will recursively add everything in the project:

$ bzr add
added subdirectory
added test1.txt
added test2.txt
added test3.txt
added subdirectory/test4.txt

Next, take a snapshot of your files by committing them to your branch. Add a message to explain why you made the commit:

$ bzr commit -m "Initial import"

As Bazaar is a distributed version control system, it doesn’t need to connect to a central server to make the commit. Instead, Bazaar stores your branch and all its commits inside the directory you’re working with; look for the .bzr sub-directory.

Making changes to your files

Let’s change a file and commit that change to your branch.

Edit test1.txt in your favourite editor, then check what have you done:

$ bzr diff
=== modified file 'test1.txt'
--- test1.txt   2007-10-08 17:56:14 +0000
+++ test1.txt   2007-10-08 17:46:22 +0000
@@ -0,0 +1,1 @@
+test test test

Commit your work to the Bazaar branch:

$ bzr commit -m "Added first line of text"
Committed revision 2.

Viewing the revision log

You can see the history of your branch by browsing its log:

$ bzr log
revno: 2
committer: John Doe <>
branch nick: myproject
timestamp: Mon 2007-10-08 17:56:14 +0000
  Added first line of text
revno: 1
committer: John Doe <>
branch nick: myproject
timestamp: Mon 2006-10-08 17:46:22 +0000
  Initial import

Publishing your branch with sftp

There are a couple of ways to publish your branch. If you already have an SFTP server or are comfortable setting one up, you can publish your branch to it.

Otherwise, skip to the next section to publish with Launchpad, a free hosting service for Bazaar.

Let’s assume you want to publish your branch at

$ bzr push --create-prefix s
2 revision(s) pushed.

Bazaar will create a myproject directory on the remote server and push your branch to it.

Now anyone can create their own copy of your branch by typing:

$ bzr branch

Note: to use sftp, you may need to install paramiko and pyCrypto. See for details.

Publishing your branch with Launchpad

Launchpad is a suite of development and hosting tools for free software projects. You can use it to publish your branch.

If you don’t have a Launchpad account, follow the account signup guide and register an SSH key in your new Launchpad account.

Replacing john.doe with your own Launchpad username, type:

$ bzr push bzr+ssh://

Note: +junk means that this branch isn’t associated with any particular project in Launchpad.

Now, anyone can create their own copy of your branch by typing:

$ bzr branch

You can also see information about your branch, including its revision history, at

Creating your own copy of another branch

To work with someone else’s code, you can make your own copy of their branch. Let’s take a real-world example, Bazaar’s GTK interface:

$ bzr branch bzr-gtk.john
Branched 292 revision(s).

Bazaar will download all the files and complete revision history from the bzr-gtk project’s trunk branch and create a copy called bzr-gtk.john.

Now, you have your own copy of the branch and can commit changes with or without a net connection. You can share your branch at any time by publishing it and, if the bzr-gtk team want to use your work, Bazaar makes it easy for them to merge your branch back into their trunk branch.

Updating your branch from the main branch

While you commit changes to your branch, it’s likely that other people will also continue to commit code to the parent branch.

To make sure your branch stays up to date, you should merge changes from the parent into your personal branch:

$ bzr merge
Merging from saved parent location:
All changes applied successfully.

Check what has changed:

$ bzr diff

If you’re happy with the changes, you can commit them to your personal branch:

$ bzr commit -m "Merge from main branch"
Committed revision 295.

Merging your work into the parent branch

After you’ve worked on your personal branch of bzr-gtk, you may want to send your changes back upstream to the project. The easiest way is to use a merge directive.

A merge directive is a machine-readable request to perform a particular merge. It usually contains a patch preview of the merge and either contains the necessary revisions, or provides a branch where they can be found.

Replacing mycode.patch, create your merge directive:

$ bzr send -o mycode.patch
Using saved parent location:

You can now email the merge directive to the bzr-gtk project who, if they choose, can use it merge your work back into the parent branch.

Learning more

You can find out more about Bazaar in the Bazaar User Guide.

To learn about Bazaar on the command-line:

$ bzr help

To learn about Bazaar commands:

$ bzr help commands

To learn about the ‘’foo’’ topic or command:

$ bzr help foo