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Git vs. Mercurial: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 20, 2023
Git is a distributed version control system; Mercurial is another, with a focus on ease of use.

Key Differences

Git, created by Linus Torvalds, has become one of the most popular distributed version control systems, largely due to its efficiency in handling large codebases and its intricate branching capabilities. On the other hand, Mercurial, also a distributed version control system, prides itself on being user-friendly and intuitive, especially for those new to version control.
Git is known for its flexibility, allowing users to manipulate their version history with a wide range of commands. This flexibility can sometimes make Git complex and challenging for beginners. Mercurial, conversely, has a simpler set of commands and avoids exposing users to its internal mechanisms, making the learning curve smoother.
Both Git and Mercurial support branching, but they approach it differently. In Git, branching is a central feature, allowing developers to create, delete, and manipulate branches with ease. Mercurial, on the other hand, initially had a more linear approach but has since introduced named branches and bookmarks to offer branching capabilities.
One significant difference between Git and Mercurial is their respective communities and support. Git, being more widespread, has a vast community, with numerous online resources, third-party tools, and integrations. Mercurial's community, while smaller, is dedicated and has crafted a system that some find more straightforward and consistent.
When considering GUI (Graphical User Interface) tools, Git offers a variety of third-party options due to its popularity. Mercurial, while having fewer options, often has built-in GUI tools, making it more accessible for those who prefer a graphical interface over the command line.

Comparison Chart


Created by Linus Torvalds.
Independently developed.


Offers more flexibility, can be more complex.
More streamlined and user-friendly.


Central feature with intricate handling.
More linear, with named branches added later.

Community & Support

Larger community, more third-party tools.
Smaller, dedicated community.

GUI Tools

Numerous third-party options.
Fewer options, often with built-in GUIs.

Git and Mercurial Definitions


Created by Linus Torvalds.
Git's origin traces back to Linus Torvalds' need for a better version control system.


Initially had a linear approach to versioning.
Mercurial has since adapted to include named branching for developers.


Known for handling large codebases efficiently.
Large corporations like Google have adopted Git for its scalability.


Provides a more streamlined user experience.
Mercurial avoids overloading users with intricate internal details.


A distributed version control system.
Developers often use Git to manage their software projects.


Often features built-in GUI tools.
Those uncomfortable with the command line can use Mercurial's graphical interfaces.


Has intricate branching capabilities.
With Git, it's easy for developers to work on multiple features simultaneously.


Known for its user-friendly command set.
Mercurial's command simplicity makes it appealing to version control novices.


Has a command-line-based interface with GUI tools available.
Though Git operates primarily via command line, tools like GitHub Desktop offer a GUI.


A distributed version control system focused on simplicity.
Many beginners find Mercurial's learning curve gentler than other systems.


Variant of get1.


Roman Mythology Of or relating to the god Mercury.


An unpleasant, contemptible, or frustratingly obtuse person.


A silly, incompetent, stupid, or annoying person (usually a man).


See Geat.


A person who is deemed to be despicable or contemptible;
Only a rotter would do that
Kill the rat
Throw the bum out
You cowardly little pukes!
The British call a contemptible person a `git'


Who developed Mercurial?

Mercurial was independently developed as a distributed version control system.

Do both Git and Mercurial support branching?

Yes, both support branching, but they handle it differently.

How does Mercurial differ from Git?

Mercurial emphasizes simplicity and user-friendliness, whereas Git offers more flexibility.

Can I use a graphical interface with Mercurial?

Yes, Mercurial often has built-in GUI tools for users.

What is Git?

Git is a distributed version control system created by Linus Torvalds.

What's the learning curve like for Mercurial?

Mercurial is often considered more beginner-friendly due to its streamlined commands.

Can I migrate from Git to Mercurial?

Yes, there are tools and methods available for migrating between the two.

Is Mercurial's branching similar to Git's?

They both support branching, but the approach and handling differ between the two systems.

Are Git and Mercurial the only version control systems?

No, there are others like Subversion and CVS, but Git and Mercurial are prominent distributed systems.

Which companies use Git?

Numerous companies, from tech giants like Google to smaller startups, utilize Git.

Which is older, Git or Mercurial?

They were both developed around the same time, with Git being slightly older.

Why was Mercurial developed?

Mercurial was created as a response to the need for a user-friendly distributed version control system.

What are the primary uses of Git?

Git is mainly used for software development, allowing teams to track code changes and collaborate.

Which is more complex, Git or Mercurial?

Git can be more complex due to its flexibility, while Mercurial is designed for simplicity.

How is the Git community compared to the Mercurial community?

Git has a larger community with more resources, while Mercurial's is smaller but dedicated.

Does Git offer a GUI?

While Git is command-line-based, many third-party GUI tools exist for it.

How do I start with Mercurial?

You can download Mercurial and start with its built-in tutorials or online resources.

Why would one choose Git over Mercurial?

They might prefer Git's flexibility, larger community, or third-party tool integrations.

Can Mercurial handle large projects?

Yes, Mercurial is capable of managing large codebases.

Is Git the most popular version control system?

Git is among the most popular, especially with platforms like GitHub supporting it.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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