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Controlling file registration

What does Bazaar track?

As explained earlier, bzr add finds and registers all the things in and under the current directory that Bazaar thinks ought to be version controlled. These things may be:

  • files
  • directories
  • symbolic links.

Bazaar has default rules for deciding which files are interesting and which ones are not. You can tune those rules as explained in Ignoring files below.

Unlike many other VCS tools, Bazaar tracks directories as first class items. As a consequence, empty directories are correctly supported - you don’t need to create a dummy file inside a directory just to ensure it gets tracked and included in project exports.

For symbolic links, the value of the symbolic link is tracked, not the content of the thing the symbolic link is pointing to.

Note: Support for tracking projects-within-projects (“nested trees”) is currently under development. Please contact the Bazaar developers if you are interested in helping develop or test this functionality.

Selective registration

In some cases, you may want or need to explicitly nominate the things to register rather than leave it up to Bazaar to find things. To do this, simply provide paths as arguments to the add command like this:

bzr add fileX dirY/

Adding a directory implicitly adds all interesting things underneath it.

Ignoring files

Many source trees contain some files that do not need to be versioned, such as editor backups, object or bytecode files, and built programs. You can simply not add them, but then they’ll always crop up as unknown files. You can also tell Bazaar to ignore these files by adding them to a file called .bzrignore at the top of the tree.

This file contains a list of file wildcards (or “globs”), one per line. Typical contents are like this:


If a glob contains a slash, it is matched against the whole path from the top of the tree; otherwise it is matched against only the filename. So the previous example ignores files with extension .o in all subdirectories, but this example ignores only config.h at the top level and HTML files in doc/:


To get a list of which files are ignored and what pattern they matched, use bzr ignored:

% bzr ignored
config.h                 ./config.h            *~

Note that ignore patterns are only matched against non-versioned files, and control whether they are treated as “unknown” or “ignored”. If a file is explicitly added, it remains versioned regardless of whether it matches an ignore pattern.

The .bzrignore file should normally be versioned, so that new copies of the branch see the same patterns:

% bzr add .bzrignore
% bzr commit -m "Add ignore patterns"

The command bzr ignore PATTERN can be used to easily add PATTERN to the .bzrignore file (creating it if necessary and registering it to be tracked by Bazaar). Removing and modifying patterns are done by directly editing the .bzrignore file.

Global ignores

There are some ignored files which are not project specific, but more user specific. Things like editor temporary files, or personal temporary files. Rather than add these ignores to every project, bzr supports a global ignore file in ~/.bazaar/ignore [1]. It has the same syntax as the per-project ignore file.

[1]On Windows, the users configuration files can be found in the application data directory. So instead of ~/.bazaar/branch.conf the configuration file can be found as: C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Bazaar\2.0\branch.conf. The same is true for locations.conf, ignore, and the plugins directory.