21a8dca Mar 23, 2018
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This document describes the general setup and architecture that runs the site. The idea is to document all the moving parts that aren't checked in to this repository. That may help new people joining the project to help out, as well provide some continuity in case the maintainer is hit by a bus.


Though the site is a rails app, it can mostly be thought of a serving static content. It's just that we suck in that static content and pre-process it using nightly scheduled jobs. We never write anything to the database on behalf of user requests.

The content is a mix of:

  • actual static content in this repository

  • community book content brought in from; see the lib/tasks/book2.rake file.

  • manpages from releases of the git project, imported and formatted via asciidoctor; see the lib/tasks/index.rake task.


The app itself is served by Heroku. The app name is git-scm (so you can visit it directly as The site is owned by the team. If you want to be involved in managing uptime/deploys/etc, you'll need a Heroku account and request to be added to that team. The git-scm team receives credits from Heroku so that the hosting is free.

We use a few Heroku add-ons:

  • Bonsai elasticsearch (see below)

  • Heroku Postgres as the database

  • Heroku Redis for rails caching

  • Heroku scheduler for cron jobs

The nightly scheduled jobs are:

  • rake downloads (pick up newly released git versions)

  • rake preindex (pull in and format manpages for released git versions)

  • rake remote_genbook2 (pull in and format progit2 book content, including translations)

It should be safe to run any of those jobs more frequently. E.g., if you know there's a new Git release out, then:

heroku run rake preindex
heroku run rake downloads

will get it on the site without waiting for the nightly run.

Merges to the master branch on GitHub auto-deploy to Heroku, so unless you're doing something tricky you generally shouldn't need to manually deploy.

Note that some of the formatting of manpages and book content happens when they are imported by the rake tasks. So after fixing some formatting and deploying, the rake jobs may need to be re-run with a special flag to re-import (see the individual tasks for details).


We get enough requests that it's easy to overwhelm the single Heroku dyno. So we have Cloudflare sitting in front of it, aggressively caching everything. That also should make the site faster to serve to regions far away from Heroku's servers.

The Cloudflare setup is mostly pretty simple:

  • they serve DNS for the whole domain (that's where they insert the CDN magic)

  • Cloudflare provides https:// support to the user. Obviously the site is totally open and doesn't have any sensitive data, so this is really more about integrity. The certificate is generated by Cloudflare (and requires SNI on the browser side).

  • the Cloudflare connection to Heroku is passed over TLS; they provide an "internal" certificate that we ask Heroku to use, so the connection is secured between the two (again, mostly for integrity)

  • the most exotic config is that we use "page rules" to mark the whole site to be cached aggressively, regardless of any caching headers sent from Heroku. This is a bit of a hack, but there's very little on the site that can't be cached (which is perhaps a sign that the rails setup needs to be tweaked to send more reasonable caching headers, but this has been simple and effective so far).

    There are a few special page rules to lift this caching for cases where we do server-side logic (e.g.,"), but the long-term goal is to push that logic onto the client side as much as possible.

There's a single Cloudflare account/password that controls the site. There's no team setup, but the information is in escrow with the Git PLC at Software Freedom Conservancy. Cloudflare provides the project with enough credits that it doesn't cost anything (though we're not using very many features, so it's possible that a free account would be sufficient, too).

Bonsai Elasticsearch

The search functionality on the site is served by an elasticsearch cluster. The index can be populated by running rake search_index (manpages) and rake search_index_book (book) on Heroku (we only index the manpages and book). This perhaps should be run nightly, or at least after pulling in new content, but it currently isn't done automatically.

The elasticsearch cluster is provided by Bonsai via their Heroku plugin. Our needs are larger than their free tier provides, but we receive credits from them that provide the service for free.


The actual DNS service is provided by Cloudflare (see above). The domain itself is registered with Gandi, and is owned by the project via Software Freedom Conservancy. Funds for the registration are provided from the Git project's Conservancy funds, and both the Git PLC and Conservancy have credentials to modify the setup.

Note that we own both and; the latter redirects to the former.

Manual Intervention

The site mostly just runs without intervention:

  • code merged to master is auto-deployed

  • new git versions are detected daily and manpages and download links updated

  • book updates (including translations) are picked up daily

There are a few tasks that still need to be handled by a human:

  • new images added to the book have to be copied manually from progit/progit2

  • new languages for book translations need to be added to lib/tasks/book2.rake

  • forced re-imports of content (e.g., a formatting fix to imported manpages) must be triggered manually