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Microsoft builds open source GVFS to virtualise your Git experience


As Git has become the need of the hour in this fast-moving world of code, Microsoft has brought out its Git Virtual File System (GVFS) to deliver an upgraded coding experience. This new solution is available as an open source offering to attract developers.

Microsoft’s GVFS is aimed at helping Git clients scale to repositori­es of any size. This will overcome the challenges of storing a large number of files and is likely to help users preserve their precious codebase.

GVFS virtualise­s the file system to make it appear as though all the files in your repository are present. But it only downloads files locally the first time they are opened. This helps users save hours of efforts in downloadin­g a single file. Also, users do not need to apply any changes to their IDEs and build tools to make the new solution operable.

Microsoft claims that with its open source GVFS, a clone can be built in a few minutes instead of over 12 hours — a checkout now takes 30 seconds against the two to three hours it does without GVFS, and a status takes four to five seconds instead of 10 minutes.

Though Microsoft’s team is internally testing GVFS ahead of its formal release, its open sourced version is already available with all the relevant code and materials on GitHub. This developer-focused version is likely to have some limitation­s in the initial stages.

“Feel free to give it a try, but please be aware that it relies on a pre-release file system driver. The driver binaries are also available for preview as a NuGet package, and your best bet is to play with GVFS in a VM and not in any production environmen­t,” explained Saeed Noursalehi, principal program manager at Microsoft, in a blog post.

The developer team is set to improve GVFS over time. Meanwhile, you can get the upgraded Git with changes for GVFS-backed repositori­es from the official Git repository. You can also access the protocol extension that the solution uses to integrate third party services.

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