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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. [IMPORTANT: please click and read the WIKI link above before submitting issues, pull requests, etc]

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[IMPORTANT: There is now an "upgrade" document in the "doc" directory; please read if upgrading gitolite]

[Update 2009-10-10: apart from all the nifty new features, there's now an "easy install" script in the src directory. Please see the INSTALL document in the doc directory for details]

Gitolite is a rewrite of gitosis, with a completely different config file that allows (at last!) access control down to the branch level, including specifying who can and cannot rewind a given branch.

In this document:

  • why
  • what's extra
  • security
  • contact and license


I have been using gitosis for a while, and have learnt a lot from it. But in a typical $DAYJOB setting, there are some issues:

  • it's not always Linux; you can't just "urpmi gitosis" (or yum or apt-get) and be done
  • often, "python-setuptools" isn't installed (and on a Solaris9 I was trying to help remotely, we never did manage to install it eventually)
  • you don't have root access, or the ability to add users (this is also true for people who have just one userid on a hosting provider)
  • the most requested feature (see "what's new?") had to be written anyway

All of this pointed to a rewrite. In perl, naturally :-)

what's extra

Per-branch permissions. You will not believe how often I am asked this at $DAYJOB. This is almost the single reason I started thinking about rolling my own gitosis in the first place.

It's not just "read-only" versus "read-write". Rewinding a branch (aka "non fast forward push") is potentially dangerous, but sometimes needed. So is deleting a branch (which is really just an extreme form of rewind). I needed something in between allowing anyone to do it (the default) and disabling it completely (receive.denyNonFastForwards or receive.denyDeletes).

Here're some more features. All of them are documented in detail somewhere in the doc/ subdirectory.

  • simpler, yet far more powerful, config file syntax, including specifying gitweb/daemon access. You'll need this power if you manage lots of users
    • repos + combinations of access
  • config file syntax gets checked upfront, and much more thoroughly
  • if your requirements are still too complex, you can split up the config file and delegate authority over parts of it
  • more comprehensive logging [aka: management does not think "blame" is just a synonym for "annotate" :-)]
  • "personal namespace" prefix for each dev
  • migration guide and simple converter for gitosis conf file
  • "exclude" (or "deny" rights in the config file) -- this is the "rebel" branch in the repository, and always will be ;-)


Due to the environment in which this was created and the need it fills, I consider this a "security" program, albeit a very modest one. The code is very small and easily reviewable -- the 2 programs that actually control access when a user logs in total about 200 lines of code (about 80 lines according to "sloccount").

For the first person to find a security hole in it, defined as allowing a normal user (not the gitolite admin) to read a repo, or write/rewind a ref, that the config file says he shouldn't, and caused by a bug in code that is in the "master" branch, (not in the other branches, or the configuration file or in Unix, perl, shell, etc.)... well I can't afford 1000 USD rewards like djb, so you'll have to settle for 1000 INR (Indian Rupees) as a "token" prize :-)

contact and license

Gitolite is released under GPL v2. See COPYING for details.

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