fool-proof, step-by-step, install and setup

This page is useful if the normal install instructions did not work for you.

pre-requisites, etc

These are the pre-requisites:

  • Any Linux machine on which git has already been installed.
  • Probably any BSD or legacy system like Solaris will also work, but I have not tested them.
    • I do not consider Apple devices to be Unix enough; it should work, but please do not ask me for help if it does not.

This page has several restrictions and constraints that seem unnecessary to people who do understand ssh. That's the whole point -- I'm compensating for lack of ssh knowledge by removing things that trip people up.

If even this page does not help you install gitolite, I probably cannot help you. Either you did not follow the instructions carefully (maybe some task has to be run on your workstation, but you ran it on the server, or you ran something as root when it should be as the hosting user, etc.), or your environment is far too different from standard Unix, or you have some other problem. In any case, it is not something I can help with. Sorry.


  • Your name is Ron. Substitute accordingly in the instructions below.

  • You have a workstation.

  • You have a server called server.

  • You have root access on this server.

installation tasks

  1. Create a new userid on the server, say git. This will be the hosting user. ("hosting user" means when you're done installing, your users will use URLs like git@server:reponame or ssh://git@server/reponame).

    Make sure this is a NEW userid.

    If the name you want already exists, then:

    • Log in as root.
    • If you have any data on that user's HOME directory save it somewhere else.
    • Delete the userid.
    • Completely wipe out (erase) the home directory of the user (since on most systems merely deleting the user does not remove the home directory).
    • Re-create the userid again.
  2. If you don't already have one, make yourself an ssh keypair on your workstation.

    Do NOT add this public key to the authorised keys file on the newly created hosting user!

    Your ONLY access to the new (git) userid should be by logging onto the server as root, then running su - git.

  3. Now copy the pubkey from your workstation (~/.ssh/ to the server as /tmp/ (Your name is Ron, remember?)

  4. Log on to the server as root.

  5. Switch to the git user:

    su - git
  6. Clone the gitolite source code

    git clone
  7. Install it

    cd $HOME
    mkdir -p bin
    gitolite/install -to $HOME/bin
  8. Set it up

    cd $HOME
    $HOME/bin/gitolite setup -pk /tmp/
  9. Now go to your workstation and type in

    git ls-remote git@server:gitolite-admin

    This should return something like

    9dd8aab60bac5e54ccf887a87b4f3d35c96b05e4    HEAD
    9dd8aab60bac5e54ccf887a87b4f3d35c96b05e4    refs/heads/master

    (do I have to mention that your SHAs will be different?)

administration tasks

Most day-to-day administration is done by making changes to a clone of the gitolite-admin repo and pushing. (There are some things that are done by editing $HOME/.gitolite.rc on the server, but those are too advanced for this tutorial so we will ignore that).

  1. To start administering gitolite, clone the gitolite-admin repo:

    git clone git@server:gitolite-admin
  2. Now go to the new directory this creates, and look around:

    cd gitolite-admin
    ls -A

    which gives you

    conf/  .git/  keydir/

    Ignoring the ".git" and exploring further:

    ls -A conf keydir

    which says:

  3. Let's say you want to add your colleague Alice. She has sent you her ssh public key by email (the file is called Save this file as /tmp/, then do this:

    # still in your gitolite-admin clone, from the previous step
    cp /tmp/ keydir
    git add keydir
    git commit -m 'new user alice'
    git push
  4. Well, that might not be sufficient. There aren't any new repos for alice to play with, yet. So here's what you do: edit "conf/gitolite.conf" and add something like to the end:

    repo foo
        RW+     =   alice
        R       =   ron

    Save the file, then git add conf; git commit -m 'new repo foo'; git push.

    This will automatically create a brand new repo called "foo" on the server, and alice will be able to clone from it, or push anything to it.