GitHub announced that on October 1, 2020, any new repositories you create will use “main” as the default branch, instead of “master”. The change does not impact any of your existing repositories: existing repositories will continue to have the same default branch they have now.
In June of 2020, GitHub decided to replace the term “master” on its service with a neutral word like “main”. That change will be taking place as of October 1, 2020. GitHub explains the reason they selected the word “main” to replace “master” this way:
main is the most popular replacement for master that we’re seeing across GitHub. We like it because it’s short, it keeps your muscle memory intact, and it translates well across most languages. We’re using main for our newly-created repositories and for the repositories we’re moving now, like depandabot-core.
Later this year, GitHub has plans for seamless moves for existing repositories. They point out that renaming the default branch today causes a set of challenges. GitHub states that by the end of the year they will make it seamless for existing repositories to rename their default branch. When you rename the branch, GitHub will retarget your open PRs and draft releases, move your branch protection policies, and more – all automatically.
ZDNet reported that GitHub’s move to replace “master” with “main” is part of a bigger trend in the tech community. Companies and major open source projects like Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, Red Hat, MySQL, the Linux kernel, and OpenBSD have also agreed to make changes to their technical jargon.