Renaming the Default Branch to Devel

During the 3.17 devel cycle, Bioconductor will rename the default branch devel.


J Wokaty


March 1, 2023

On March 8th, Bioconductor will rename the default branch on to devel. This change has been many discussions and a lot of work in the making. Here’s why we’re doing it and how it impacts developers and maintainers. Users will not be impacted by this change.

Moving Toward Inclusion

You might already be familiar with others, like the tidyverse, moving away from the terminology “master” to use more inclusive language. We realize that this language is not representative of Bioconductor and it’s a step toward inclusion that’s inline with Bioconductor’s Code of Conduct to provide a welcoming and supportive experience.

We specifically chose devel as it more aptly describes what this branch is within the context of Bioconductor.

Impact on Bioconductor Package Developers and Maintainers

After March 8th, developers and maintainers will need to push their changes to the devel branch on If you have a repository on GitHub, we recommend renaming your default branch on GitHub first then renaming your branch in your local repository on your computer.

Rename the Default Branch on Github

On GitHub, you can rename your master branch in your repository by going to Settings > Branches then clicking on the pencil icon.

Settings > Branches at

Note: Renaming the branch will also change any pull requests attempting to merge into your current default branch.

Rename the default branch devel

Rename the Branch Named Master in Your Local Repository

You can change your local repository with the following code, assuming your branch is named master:

git branch -m master devel
git fetch origin
git branch -u origin/devel devel
git remote set-head origin -a

If you performed the prior steps to rename your default branch in GitHub, it will also provide you with the same code, which you can share with contributors.

Push to

After you’ve renamed your local branches, you can push to the devel branch at

git remote -v
# origin (fetch)
# origin (push)
# upstream (fetch)
# upstream (push)
git push upstream devel

Push to Without Altering Your Local Branch

It’s also possible to push to devel without altering your local branch:

# Assuming your remote is named upstream
# and your branch is named 'main'
git push upstream main:devel

See our Branch Rename FAQ for more details.