We are excited to launch support today for Mercurial repositories. Mercurial, cleverly abbreviated Hg, is a distributed version control system originally created for Linux kernel development, though Linux went with Git instead. It is currently used by many projects including Firefox and OpenOffice. Although it has a smaller market share than Subversion or Git, it is quickly growing in popularity.
Mercurial vs Git vs Subversion
Mercurial is very similar to Git. It is distributed, meaning that every copy of the repository contains the full history. As a result, commits and most other commands are local operations and therefore very fast. You only interact with Repository Hosting when you hg push your commits up to your project, or hg pull others' changes down to your local repository. Mercurial is very lightweight and can be used on projects of any size, from something as big as an open-source project like Firefox down to versioning your local documents folder.
A few improvements over Git that Mercurial offers is that it is a bit more intuitive to use and has great documentation. It also labels commits with both Git-style hashes and SVN-style integers, a compromise that makes it easier to follow the flow of commits. Git, though, is better for power users as it provides greater flexibility and control over the workflows.
The difference between Mercurial and Subversion is the difference between distributed version control systems and centralized ones. Although Subversion's workflow is a little bit simpler, it lacks the speed, offline usability, and excellent branching and merging of Mercurial. A good overview of the similarities and differences of the major version control systems can be found here.
Give it a try
All of our features, such as Trac plugins, notifications, and commit messages now support Mercurial. To use Mercurial, simply create a new project in your account and select Mercurial as the Repository System. We hope you will enjoy this new Repository Hosting feature!