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New Mercurial logo.svg
Original author(s) Matt Mackall
Developer(s) Matt Mackall; others
Initial release April 19, 2005 (2005-04-19) (0.1)[1]
Stable release

6.6.1  (December 7, 2023; 2 months ago (2023-12-07))

Preview release 5.7.0 RC0  (January 19, 2021; 3 years ago (2021-01-19)) [±]
Written in Python, C
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Revision control software
License(s) GNU General Public License v2.0

Mercurial is a free open-source distributed revision control (or "source control management" [SCM]) tool for software developers.

Product history

Mercurial was devised by developer Matt Mackall as a replacement for revision control software BitKeeper. On April 6, 2005, BitKeeper developer Bitmover announced the free version of BitKeeper would no longer be available. This prompted Mackall to begin work on a replacement system which he called Mercurial.[2] On April 19, Mackall released the first open-source version of Mercurial as version 0.1 to be a simple, scalable, and efficient version control replacement tool.[1] Much later, when asked about the origin of the Mercurial name on the associated Google Group, Mackall responded[3]:

Shortly before the first release, I read an article about the ongoing Bitkeeper debacle that described Larry McVoy as mercurial (in the sense of "fickle"). Given the multiple meanings, the convenient abbreviation, and the good fit with my pre-existing naming scheme (see my email address), it clicked instantly. Mercurial is thus named in Larry's honor. I do not know if the same is true of Git.

On September 19, 2006, Mercurial joined the Software Freedom Conservancy, home of free and open-source software (FOSS) projects, in order to focus less on administration and more on producing project code.[4]

In April 2009, Google Code announced it would be supporting Mercurial (alongside Subversion) for its open-source software projects.[5] In September 2010, Microsoft's donated $25,000 to the Mercurial project to help developer Mackall accelerate development as a full-time effort.[6]


The features of Mercurial include[7]:

  • distributed
  • speedy data structures
  • platform-independent
  • extensible

Hardware/software requirements

The main installation requirement for Mercurial is Python 2.6 to 2.7, though most distributions will already contain this. Consult the installation information for more.

Videos, screenshots, and other media

Entities using Mercurial

Further reading

External links