hg st says modified, but hg diff doesn’t say anything

2008-03-11 23:40:39 UTC

You have a puzzle. When you run hg st, it says one of your files is modified:

hg st                                                              %~/Python/run_tests(0)
M test.py

But when you run hg diff, it doesn’t say anything about the file:

hg diff test.py                                                    %~/Python/run_tests(0)

The reason, at least in my case, was that the file’s permissions had changed. hg st acknowledges this change exactly the same way it acknowledges a change to the file’s contents, but hg diff only shows changes to the contents of the file, not the metadata. Thus, a metadata change only gets reported by hg st and not by hg diff.

While I prefer hg over svn, this is one advantage that svn has over hg. hg only uses one column to indicate the type of change, and shows the same letter (M) for metadata changes as for content changes. svn, on the other hand, uses seven columns, and a metadata change puts the M in a different column.

There’s no way to make hg st use the svn st format, but you can make hg diff show metadata changes. The way to do this is to edit your hgrc file and enable git mode:


There are two hgrc files; you can choose to change either or both. You can edit ~/.hgrc (this is what I recommend), or you can edit the per-repository .hg/hgrc file. (There is no .hg/hgrc file by default, so if you haven’t created one already, you would need to create it.)

The difference, as you’ve probably guessed, is that ~/.hgrc sets hg’s default for all repositories, whereas the per-repository hgrc changes the setting only for one repository, overriding ~/.hgrc and hg’s own defaults.

Once you make this change, the output from hg diff will include metadata information:

hg diff test.py                                                    %~/Python/run_tests(0)
diff --git a/test.py b/test.py
old mode 100755
new mode 100644
chmod a+x test.py                                                  %~/Python/run_tests(0)

2 Responses to “hg st says modified, but hg diff doesn’t say anything”

  1. Colin Barrett Says:

    You really should be using git-style diffs anyway. If you want to use mq, you will definitely need to be using them. Plus they are just better ;)

  2. Peter Hosey Says:

    Colin: Seconded. But it’s worth a post because git-style diffs aren’t on by default and many people probably don’t even know that it would solve this problem. Now it’s Googlable.

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