Installing a git server for our working group

In our working group we’ve been discussing for quiet a while now to install our own version control system. However, it was always a question of man power that nothing happened. At the end of last week I decided to install a git server on an unused computer in my office. I must say, it was much easier than I thought. After a quick web search I choose gitolite with gitweb, which is part of git. The operating system is Ubuntu 14.04, but I assume it is very similar for all Debian like systems (without the usage of sudo all the time, when you open one root shell in Debian). The main part of the information is from two other webpages on ubuntuforums and Ubuntu help. In the following I describe what I did and partly why. One minor problem persisted till the end. You have to modify some configuration files with your text editor of choice. On my local machine I prefer Emacs, nevertheless, my choice over the network is vi since it is much faster.

1.) Install the software

> sudo apt-get install gitolite gitweb

2.) Create user git

> sudo adduser --system --shell /bin/bash --group --disabled-password --home /home/git git

3.) Adjust projectroot and projects_list in /etc/gitweb.conf. I will use the user git to run gitolite, therefore I modified the corresponding lines in the config file:

$projectroot = "/home/git/repositories/";
$projects_list = "/home/git/projects.list";

4.) Configure the webserver, in my case I use Apache

> sudo cp -i /etc/apache2/conf.d/gitweb /etc/apache2/conf-available/gitweb.conf
> cd /etc/apache2/conf-enabled
> sudo ln -s ../conf-available/gitweb.conf

5.) Modify the Apache configuration: add “+” before “FollowSymLinks”

> sudo vi gitweb.conf

So that the config file looks like follows:

Alias /gitweb /usr/share/gitweb
  Options +FollowSymLinks +ExecCGI
  AddHandler cgi-script .cgi

6.) Add the user www-data to the group git, so that apache can read the repositories (www-data, or whatever UID apache is running under). You can do this either by modifying /etc/group by hand or by command:

> sudo vi /etc/group


> sudo usermod -a -G git www-data

7.) Enable the Apache CGI module and restart the server.

> sudo a2enmod cgi
> sudo service apache2 restart

8.) Gitolite uses a git repository for its one configuration, so that I don’t need to do everything under the UID git. For authentication ssh-keys are used. You have to copy the public ssh key (in Linux/Unix systems: ~/.ssh/ to a directory readable by the user git. The file name is the username for gitolite. For example you can use the user you are logged in as. If you have no ssh key pair yet create one first and follow the instructions:

> ssh-keygen
> cp ~/.ssh/ /tmp/

9.) Change to user git and initialize Gitolite

> sudo su - git
> gl-setup /tmp/

10.) In the configuration file (~/.gitolite.rc) change $REPO_UMASK from 0077 to 0027, otherwise the webserver won’t be able to read the repositories and project lists. And then exit user git

> vi ~/.gitolite.rc
> exit

11.) Set up git global vars, if not previously done. And clone the configuration repository.

> git config --global ""
> git config --global "admin"
> git clone

12.) Add users by adding their public ssh key to the subfolder “keydir” in the just created repository “gitolite-admin”. Don’t forget to add the file to the repository!

cd gitolite-admin
git add keydir/newuser.pup

13.) Create new repositories in gitolite-admin/conf/gitolite.conf and commit changes and push them back to the server.

git commit -a -m "created new repository and added user newuser"
git push -u origin master

14.) Now comes the tricky point, which took a while to find out. And as always afterwards I thought “Was that easy!” The repositories were not listed on the webpage of gitweb ( If you want the repository to be displayed on gitweb the user “gitweb” needs to be added to the repositories access list in ~/gitolite-admin/conf/gitolite.conf.

All user for which you added a ssh key to the gitolite-admin repository cat now access those repositories for which you granted read and/or write access in the configuration file. All users use the UID git, p.e.

git clone

And now I and my collegues can access and share the repositories we work together on or we could also use it for manuscripts. If you want to follow the above description don’t forget to replace the usernames with your appropriate usernames and “” with your server name or IP address.


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