[git] Trying to pull files from my Github repository: "refusing to merge unrelated histories"

I'm learning git, and I'm following the Git community book.

Previously (long time ago) I made a public repository on Github, with some files. Now I set up a local Git repository on my current computer, and committed some files. Then I added a remote pointing to my Github page:

[root@osboxes c]# git remote add learnc https://github.com/michaelklachko/Learning-C

That seemed to be successful:

[root@osboxes c]# git remote show learnc
* remote learnc
  Fetch URL: https://github.com/michaelklachko/Learning-C
  Push  URL: https://github.com/michaelklachko/Learning-C
  HEAD branch: master
  Remote branch:
    master tracked
  Local ref configured for 'git push':
    master pushes to master (local out of date)

Now I want to download the files from my Github repo to my computer. I did this:

[root@osboxes c]# git fetch learnc
[root@osboxes c]# git merge learnc/master
warning: refname 'learnc/master' is ambiguous.
Already up-to-date.

However, I don't see any new files in my local directory. How can I get them?

I also tried to do this:

[root@osboxes c]# git pull learnc master
From https://github.com/michaelklachko/Learning-C
 * branch            master     -> FETCH_HEAD
fatal: refusing to merge unrelated histories

BTW, locally I'm on master branch (there are no other branches):

[root@osboxes c]# git status
On branch master
nothing to commit, working directory clean

This question is related to git github git-pull git-fetch

The answer is


Try --allow-unrelated-histories

Like max630 commented, or as explained here Git refusing to merge unrelated histories


git checkout master
git merge origin/master --allow-unrelated-histories

Resolve conflict, then

git add -A .
git commit -m "Upload"
git push

In my case was facing the same issue, especially the first pull request trying after remotely adding a Git repository. The following error was facing.

fatal: refusing to merge unrelated histories on every try

Use the --allow-unrelated-histories command. It works perfectly.

git pull origin branchname --allow-unrelated-histories

On your branch - say master, pull and allow unrelated histories

git pull origin master --allow-unrelated-histories

Worked for me.


When I used --allow-unrelated-histories, this command generated too many conflicts. There were conflicts in files which I didn't even work on. To get over the error " Refusing to merge unrelated histories", I used following rebase command:

git pull --rebase=preserve --allow-unrelated-histories

After this commit the uncommitted changes with a commit message. Finally, run the following command:

git rebase --continue

After this, my working copy was up-to-date with the remote copy and I was able to push my changes as before. No more unrelated histories error while pulling.


If there is not substantial history on one end (aka if it is just a single readme commit on the github end), I often find it easier to manually copy the readme to my local repo and do a git push -f to make my version the new root commit.

I find it is slightly less complicated, doesn't require remembering an obscure flag, and keeps the history a bit cleaner.


Execute the following command:

git pull origin master --allow-unrelated-histories

A merge vim will open. Add some merging message and:

  1. Press ESC
  2. Press Shift + ';'
  3. Press 'w' and then press 'q'.

And you are good to go.


While I'm all for unblocking people's work issues, I don't think "push --force" or "--allow_unrelated_histories" should be taught to new users as general solutions because they can cause real havoc to a repository when one uses them without understand why things aren't working in the first place.

When you have a situation like this where you started with a local repository, and want to make a remote on GitHub to share your work with, there is something to watch out for.

When you create the new online repository, there's an option "Initialize this repository with a README". If you read the fine print, it says "Skip this step if you’re importing an existing repository."

You may have checked that box. Or similarly, you made an add/commit online before you attempted an initial push. What happens is you create a unique commit history in each place and they can't be reconciled without the special allowance mentioned in Nevermore's answer (because git doesn't want you to operate that way). You can follow some of the advice mentioned here, or more simply just don't check that option next time you want to link some local files to a brand new remote; keeping the remote clean for that initial push.

Reference: my first experience with git + hub was to run into this same problem and do a lot of learning to understand what had happened and why.


Examples related to git

Does the target directory for a git clone have to match the repo name? Git fatal: protocol 'https' is not supported Git is not working after macOS Update (xcrun: error: invalid active developer path (/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools) git clone: Authentication failed for <URL> destination path already exists and is not an empty directory SSL_connect: SSL_ERROR_SYSCALL in connection to github.com:443 GitLab remote: HTTP Basic: Access denied and fatal Authentication How can I switch to another branch in git? VS 2017 Git Local Commit DB.lock error on every commit How to remove an unpushed outgoing commit in Visual Studio?

Examples related to github

Does the target directory for a git clone have to match the repo name? Issue in installing php7.2-mcrypt How can I switch to another branch in git? How to draw checkbox or tick mark in GitHub Markdown table? How to add a new project to Github using VS Code git clone error: RPC failed; curl 56 OpenSSL SSL_read: SSL_ERROR_SYSCALL, errno 10054 How to add empty spaces into MD markdown readme on GitHub? key_load_public: invalid format git - remote add origin vs remote set-url origin Cloning specific branch

Examples related to git-pull

Trying to pull files from my Github repository: "refusing to merge unrelated histories" Git pull - Please move or remove them before you can merge There is no tracking information for the current branch How to unmerge a Git merge? Git: How to pull a single file from a server repository in Git? Why does git say "Pull is not possible because you have unmerged files"? fatal: could not read Username for 'https://github.com': No such file or directory Difference between git pull and git pull --rebase Is it possible to pull just one file in Git? How do I ignore an error on 'git pull' about my local changes would be overwritten by merge?

Examples related to git-fetch

Trying to pull files from my Github repository: "refusing to merge unrelated histories" Git: How to pull a single file from a server repository in Git? Why does git say "Pull is not possible because you have unmerged files"? Git removing upstream from local repository The following untracked working tree files would be overwritten by merge, but I don't care Is it possible to pull just one file in Git? Retrieve specific commit from a remote Git repository fetch in git doesn't get all branches Git fetch remote branch What does FETCH_HEAD in Git mean?