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Version: 0.8
Author: Robin Sommer <>
Date: 2024-07-17

git-notifier is a script to be used with git as a post-receive hook. Once installed, it emails out a summary of all changes each time a user pushes an update to the repository. Different from other similar scripts, git-notifier sends exactly one email per change, each of which includes a complete diff of all modifications as well as the set of branches from which the new revision can be reached. The scripts ensure that that each change is mailed out only exactly once by keeping a state file of already reported revisions.

git-notifier integrates nicely with gitolite, and it also comes with a companion script github-notifier that watches GitHub repositories for changes.

Here's example of a git-notifier mail:

Subject: [git/git-notifier] master: Adding www target to Makefile. (7dc1f95)

Repository : ssh://<removed>/git-notifier

On branch  : master


commit 7dc1f95c97275618d5bde1aaf6760cd7ff6a6ef7
Author: Robin Sommer <>
Date:   Sun Dec 19 20:21:38 2010 -0800

    Adding www target to Makefile.


 Makefile |    6 ++++++
 1 files changed, 6 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)

diff --git a/Makefile b/Makefile
index e184c66..9c9951b 100644
--- a/Makefile
+++ b/Makefile
@@ -5,6 +5,8 @@ VERSION   = 0.1


+WWW = $(HOME)/www/git-notifier

@@ -13,3 +15,7 @@ dist:
    cp $(DISTFILES) git-notifier-$(VERSION)
    tar czvf git-notifier-$(VERSION).tgz git-notifier-$(VERSION)
    rm -rf git-notifier-$(VERSION)
+www: dist
+ README >$(WWW)/index.html
+   cp git-notifier-$(VERSION).tgz $(WWW)

In addition, git-notifier also mails updates when branches or annotated tags are created or removed; and it furthermore mails a revision summary if a head moves to now include commits already reported previously (e.g., on fast-forwards).

If a commit message contains [nodiff], the generated mail will not include a diff. If a commit message contains [nomail], no mail will be send for that change.

The current release is git-notifier 0.7

Not surprisingly, git-notifier is maintained in a git repository that you can clone:

git clone git://

The repository is also mirrored to GitHub.

The CHANGES file records recent updates to git-notifier.

The basic installation is simple: just run the script from hooks/post-receive, as in:



By default, the script will send its mails to the user running the git-notifier (i.e., the one doing the update). As that's usually not the desired recipient, an alternative email address can be specified via command line or git options, see the mailinglist option below.

git-notifier supports the options below. Options can be either set on the command line, by editing a configuration file, or on a per-repository basis via git config hooks.<option> (this order also defines the priority when the same option appears multiple times). For example, to set a recipient address, do git config hooks.mailinglist

git-notifier looks for a configuration file in three places, in this order:

  • A configuration file can be specified on the command line through --config <path>.
  • A configuration file can be specified by setting the environment variable GIT_NOTIFIER_CONFIG to the path of the file.
  • If neither of these is given, git-notifier looks for a file git-notifier.conf in the same directory that the script itself is located.

The configuration file uses "INI-style", with an example coming with git-notifier.

The options are:

--allchanges <branches>
Lists branches for which all changes made to them should be mailed out as straight diffs to their previous state, independent of whether the corresponding commit has already been reported in the past. For merge commits, the mails include the full diff (i.e., git's diff -m). This might for example make sense for master if one wants to closely track any modification applied. <branches> is a list of comma-separated names of heads to treat this way.
--branches <branches>
Lists branches to include/exclude in reporting. By default, all branches are included. If this option is specified, only branches listed are included. Alternatively, one can prefix a branch with - to exclude it: then all but the excluded ones are reported. <branches> is a list of comma-separated names of heads to treat this way.

Prints the mails that would normally be generated to standard error instead, without sending them. The output also includes some further debugging information, like the git commands being executed during operation.

Note that in debug mode, the script still updates its state file, i.e., if there are changes that haven't been reported yet, they will only be printed, not mailed out next time. If you don't want that, use --noupdate as well.

--diff [rev1..]rev2

Mails out diffs between all revisions on the first parent's way from rev1 to rev2. This option produces output similar to that of a head moving forward which is listed with --allchanges. If rev1 is skipped, rev2~1 is assumed.

This option is primarily for debugging and retropective (re-)generation of this outut, and does not change the current notifier state in any way. The main difference to --manual is that it considers only revision on the first parent's path, and mails out actual diffs between these.

Specifies a prefix for the mails' subject line. If the prefix contain an %r, that will be replace with the repositories name. Default is [git/%r]. Note that the name of this option is compatible with some of other git notification scripts.
Specifies a base directory for the git repository. If not given, the current directory is the default.
--hostname <name>
Defines the hostname to use when building the repository path shown in the notification mails. Default is the canonical name of the system the script is running on.
If given, git-notifier will not report any commits that are already known by any configured remote repository.
If used along with --sender, mails will preserve the committer's real name in their From line, while still using the --sender email address. This can be useful if the outgoing mail server does not permit setting arbitrary sender email addresses.
--link <url>
Specifies a URL that will be included into notification mails for locating a changeset online. The URL can contain a "%s" placeholder that will be replaced with the corresponding git revision number. The URL can also contain an "%r" placeholder that will be replaced with the name of the repository.
--log <file>
Write logging information into the given file. Default is git-notifier.log inside the repository.
--mailcmd <command>
Specifies the command to use for sending mail. Default is /usr/sbin/sendmail.
--mailserver <host>[:<port>]
SMTP server to use for outgoing mails. Default is None, in which case mail gets sent through the local sendmail (or whatever --mailcmd defines alternatively).
--mailserverfrom <email>
Alternative envelope sender address when using an SMTP server. By default, the envelope sender is either the --sender if given, or the destination --mailinglist if not.
--mailserverpassword <password>
Password to use for authenticating to the SMTP server. --mailserveruser must be given as well.
--mailserveruser <user>
User name to use for authenticating to the SMTP server. --mailserverpassword must be given as well.
--mailinglist <address>
Specifies the recipient for all generated mails. Default is mailing to the system account that is running the script.
--mailsubjectlen <max> Limits subjects of generated mails to
<max> characters. Default os no limit.
--mailheader-* <value>
Any extra header that needs to be set in the mail message. For example, --mailheader-X-Repo=Linux would result in an x-repo: Linux header being added to the message. Note that mail headers names are case-insentive and will be converted to lowercase since both git-config and Python's ConfigParser return keys in lowercase.
--manual [rev1..]rev2

Mails out notifications for all revisions on the way from rev1 to rev2. If rev1 is skipped, rev2~1 is assumed.

This option is primarily for debugging and retropective (re-)generation of this output, and does not change the current notifier state in any way.

--mergediffs <branches>
Lists branches for which merges should include the full diff, including all changes that are already part of branch commits. <branches> is a list of command-separated names of heads to treat this way.
--maxdiffsize <size in KB>
Limits the size of mails by giving a maximum number of bytes that a diff may have. If the diff for a change is larger than this value, a notification mail is still send out but the diff is excluded (and replaced with a note saying so). Default is 50K.
--maxage <days>
Limits the age of commits to report. No commit older than this many days will trigger a commit notification. Default is 30 days; zero disables the age check.
Does not update the internal state file, meaning that any updates will be reported again next time the script is run.
--replyto <email>
Adds a Reply-To: <email> header to outgoing mails.
--sender <address>
Defines the sender address for all generated mails. Default is the user doing the update (if gitolite is used, that's the gitolite acccount doing the push, not the system account running git-notifier.)
Does not send out any mail notifications but still updates the index. In other words, all recent changes will be marked as "seen", without reporting them.
--users <file>

This is only for installations using gitolite <XXX>, for which the default sender address for all mails would normally be the gitolite user account name of the person doing the push. With this option, one can alternatively specify a file that maps such account names to alternative addresses, which will then be used as the sender for mails.

The file must consist of line of the form <gitolite-user> <sender>, where sender will be used for the mails and can include spaces. Empty lines and lines starting with # are ignored. It's ok if for a user no entry is found, in which case the default value will be used.

For example, if there's a gitolite user account "joe", one could provide a users file like this:

joe    Joe Smith <>

Now all mails triggered by Joe will have the specified sender.

Note that even if --users is not given, git-notifier will still look for such a file in ../conf/sender.cfg', relative to the top-level repository directory. In other words, you can check a file sender.cfg containing the mappings into gitolite's config/ directory and it should Just Work.

The git-notifier distribution comes with a companion script, github-notifier, that watches GitHub repositories for changes. The script maintains a local mirror of repositories you want to watch and runs git-notifier locally on those to generate the notification mails.

To setup github-notifier, you first need to install PyGithub (pip install pygithub). Then create a configuration file github-notifier.cfg in the directory where you want to keep the clones. github-notifier.cfg is an "ini-style" file consisting of one or more sections, each of which defines a set of repositories to monitor.

Here's an example set that watches just a single repository at


This defines a set called TimeMachine consisting of just the one GitHub repository, sending notifications to the given email address. With this saved in the current directory as github-notifier.cfg, you can then run github-notifier and it will create a complete clone of the remote on its first run (and not send any mails yet). On subsequent executions, the script will update the clone and spawn git-notifier to email out notifications. For now, the best way to automate this is to run github-notifier from cron.

Note: In the future we might add a daemon mode to github-notifier that keeps it running in the background, polling for updates regularly. Potentially it could even be triggered by a GitHub web hook

In the following we discuss more details of the configuration file.

The repositories entry takes a list of command-separated repositories to monitor. Each repository has the form <user>/<repo>, where <user> is a GitHub user (or organization) and <repo> is a repository that the user (or organization) maintains. <repo> may contain * as a wildcard to monitor only matching repositories (e.g., repositories=zeek/spicy-*). One can exclude individual repositories by prefixing them with a dash (e.g., repositories=zeek/*,-zeek/spicy-*).

By default, github-notifier only monitors public repositories. You can however also watch private ones if you provide it with suitable credentials using the user and token options:


The token shouldn't be the user's password but a "personal access token" as you can generate it in the user's account settings.

Within a set one can specify any of the standard git-notifier options by prefixing them with notifier-. The notifier-mailinglist options above is an example. To, e.g., set a Reply-To header, you would use

By default, these options apply to both private and public repos. To qualify that a given option should only apply to private repos, one can suffix the option with -private. Simarly, adding -public will cause the option to be applied to just public repos and not private ones. For example:


github-notifier supports the following options:

--config <file>
Specifies an alternative configuration file.
Runs the script in debug mode, which means that it will (1) log more verbosely and to stderr, and (2) run git-notifier with the --debug and --noupdate options.
Specifies an alternative log file.
Updates the local clones of all repositories, but do es not run git-notifier for the changes. This can be helpful to catch up with remote changes without reporting them.

git-notifier comes with a BSD-style license.