Hosting git repositories -- Gitolite allows you to setup git hosting on a central server, with very fine-grained access control and many (many!) more powerful features.
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Github-users: click the 'wiki' link before sending me anything via github.

Existing users: this is gitolite v3.x. If you are upgrading from v2.x this file will not suffice; you must check the online docs (see below for URL).


  • It is suitable for a fresh, ssh-based, installation of gitolite and basic usage of its most important features.
  • It is NOT meant to be exhaustive or detailed.


Please go there for what/why/how, concepts, background, troubleshooting, more details on what is covered here, or advanced features not covered here.


This file contains the following sections:

  • THE 'rc' FILE


Server requirements:

  • any unix system
  • sh
  • git 1.6.6+
  • perl 5.8.8+
  • openssh 5.0+
  • a dedicated userid to host the repos (in this document, we assume it is 'git'), with shell access ONLY by 'su - git' from some other userid on the same server.

Steps to install:

  • login as 'git' as described above

  • make sure ~/.ssh/authorized_keys is empty or non-existent

  • make sure your ssh public key from your workstation is available at $HOME/

  • run the following commands:

      git clone git://
      mkdir -p $HOME/bin
      gitolite/install -to $HOME/bin
      gitolite setup -pk

    If the last command doesn't run perhaps 'bin' in not in your 'PATH'. You can either add it, or just run:

      $HOME/bin/gitolite setup -pk


Do NOT add new repos or users manually on the server. Gitolite users, repos, and access rules are maintained by making changes to a special repo called 'gitolite-admin' and pushing those changes to the server.

To administer your gitolite installation, start by doing this on your workstation (if you have not already done so):

git clone git@host:gitolite-admin

NOTE: if you are asked for a password, something has gone wrong.

Now if you 'cd gitolite-admin', you will see two subdirectories in it: 'conf' and 'keydir'.

To add new users alice, bob, and carol, obtain their public keys and add them to 'keydir' as,, and respectively.

To add a new repo 'foo' and give different levels of access to these users, edit the file 'conf/gitolite.conf' and add lines like this:

repo foo
	RW+         =   alice
	RW          =   bob
	R           =   carol

See the 'ACCESS RULES' section later for more details.

Once you have made these changes, do something like this:

git add conf
git add keydir
git commit -m 'added foo, gave access to alice, bob, carol'
git push

When the push completes, gitolite will add the new users to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on the server, as well as create a new, empty, repo called 'foo'.


Once a user has sent you their public key and you have added them as specified above and given them access, you have to tell them what URL to access their repos at. This is usually 'git clone git@host:reponame'; see man git-clone for other forms.

NOTE: again, if they are asked for a password, something is wrong.

If they need to know what repos they have access to, they just have to run 'ssh git@host info'; see 'COMMANDS' section later for more on this.


The basic syntax of the conf file is very simple.

  • Everything is space separated; there are no commas, semicolons, etc., in the syntax.

  • Comments are in the usual perl/shell style.

  • User and repo names are as simple as possible; they must start with an alphanumeric, but after that they can also contain '.', '_', or '-'.

    Usernames can optionally be followed by an '@' and a domainname containing at least one '.'; this allows you to use an email address as someone's username.

    Reponames can contain '/' characters; this allows you to put your repos in a tree-structure for convenience.

  • There are no continuation lines.


This section is mostly 'by example'.

Gitolite's access rules are very powerful. The simplest use was already shown above. Here is a slightly more detailed example:

repo foo
	RW+                     =   alice
	-   master              =   bob
	-   refs/tags/v[0-9]    =   bob
	RW                      =   bob
	RW  refs/tags/v[0-9]    =   carol
	R                       =   dave

For clones and fetches, as long as the user is listed with an R, RW or RW+ in at least one rule, he is allowed to read the repo.

For pushes, rules are processed in sequence until a rule is found where the user, the permission (see note 1), and the refex (note 2) all match. At that point, if the permission on the matched rule was '-', the push is denied, otherwise it is allowed. If no rule matches, the push is denied.

Note 1: permission matching:

  • a permission of RW matches only a fast-forward push or create
  • a permission of RW+ matches any type of push
  • a permission of '-' matches any type of push

Note 2: refex matching: (refex = optional regex to match the ref being pushed)

  • an empty refex is treated as 'refs/.*'
  • a refex that does not start with 'refs/' is prefixed with 'refs/heads/'
  • finally, a '^' is prefixed
  • the ref being pushed is matched against this resulting refex

With all that background, here's what the example rules say:

  • alice can do anything to any branch or tag -- create, push, delete, rewind/overwrite etc.
  • bob can create or fast-forward push any branch whose name does not start with 'master' and create any tag whose name does not start with 'v'+digit.
  • carol can create tags whose names start with 'v'+digit.
  • dave can clone/fetch.


Gitolite allows you to group users or repos for convenience. Here's an example that creates two groups of users:

@staff      =   alice bob carol
@interns    =   ashok

repo secret
	RW      =   @staff

repo foss
	RW+     =   @staff
	RW      =   @interns

Group lists accumulate. The following two lines have the same effect as the earlier definition of @staff above:

@staff      =   alice bob
@staff      =   carol

You can also use group names in other group names:

@all-devs   =   @staff @interns

Finally, @all is a special group name that is often convenient to use if you really mean 'all repos' or 'all users'.


Users can run certain commands remotely, using ssh. For example:

ssh git@host help

prints a list of available commands.

The most commonly used command is 'info'. All commands respond to a single argument of '-h' with suitable information.

If you have shell on the server, you have a lot more commands available to you; try running 'gitolite help'.


Some of the instructions below may require you to edit the rc file (~/.gitolite.rc on the server).

The rc file is perl code, but you do NOT need to know perl to edit it. Just mind the commas, use single quotes unless you know what you're doing, and make sure the brackets and braces stay matched up.


Gitolite lets you set git-config values for individual repos without having to log on to the server and run 'git config' commands:

repo foo
	config hooks.mailinglist = foo-commits@example.tld
	config hooks.emailprefix = '[foo] '
	config = ''
	config foo.baz =


The last syntax shown above is the only way to delete a config variable once you have added it. Merely removing it from the conf file will not delete it from the repo.git/config file.


Some git-config keys allow arbitrary code to be run on the server.

If all of your gitolite admins already have shell access to the server account hosting it, you can edit the rc file (~/.gitolite.rc) on the server, and change the GIT_CONFIG_KEYS line to look like this:

GIT_CONFIG_KEYS     =>  '.*',

Otherwise, give it a space-separated list of regular expressions that define what git-config keys are allowed. For example, this one allows only variables whose names start with 'gitweb' or with 'gc' to be defined:

GIT_CONFIG_KEYS     =>  'gitweb\..* gc\..*',


Gitolite creates the 'git-daemon-export-ok' file for any repo that is readable by a special user called 'daemon', like so:

repo foo
	R   =   daemon


Any repo that is readable by a special user called 'gitweb' will be added to the projects.list file.

repo foo
	R   =   gitweb

Or you can set one or more of the following config variables instead:

repo foo
	config gitweb.owner         =   some person's name
	config gitweb.description   =   some description
	config gitweb.category      =   some category


You will probably need to change the UMASK in the rc file from the default (0077) to 0027 and add whatever user your gitweb is running as to the 'git' group. After that, you need to run a one-time 'chmod -R' on the already created files and directories.


Mailing list for support and general discussion: subscribe address:

Mailing list for announcements and notices: subscribe address:

IRC: #git and #gitolite on freenode. Note that I live in India (UTC+0530 time zone).

Author:, but please DO NOT use this for general support questions. Subscribe to the list and ask there instead.


The gitolite code is released under GPL v2. See COPYING for details.

This documentation, which is part of the source code repository, is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License -- see