"wild" repos (user created repos)

The wildrepos feature allows you to specify access control rules using regular expression patterns, so you can have many actual repos being served by a single set of rules in the config file. The regex can also include the word CREATOR in it, allowing you to parametrise the name of the user creating the repo.

quick intro/example

If you're curious about the feature but you aren't sure if you want to read the whole page, here's a very simple example.

This is what the admin added to the conf file:

@users = u1 u2 u3

repo foo/CREATOR/[a-z]..*
    C   =   u1 u2 u3
    RW+ =   CREATOR
    RW  =   WRITERS
    R   =   READERS

User 'u1' then runs git clone git@host:foo/u1/bar, creating the repo. Notice the repo name matches the regex, if you substitute the user's name for the word CREATOR.

This is the effective rule list for 'foo/u1/bar' immediately after the user creates it:

repo foo/u1/bar
    RW+ =   u1
    RW  =   WRITERS
    R   =   READERS

Most of this is fixed, but the creator (user 'u1') can use the perms command to add other users as 'READERS' or 'WRITERS'. For example he could add 'u2' as a writer and 'u3' and 'u5' as readers:

This is the effective rule list that applies to the repo if he does that:

repo foo/u1/bar
    RW+ =   u1
    RW  =   u2
    R   =   u3 u5

Note that both these "effective rule lists" were created without touching the actual conf file or any admin intervention.

And that's it for our quick intro example. The rest of this page will explain all this in much more detail.

declaring wild repos in the conf file

Here's a slightly more detailed example, starting with what the admin puts in the conf file:

@prof       =   u1
@TAs        =   u2 u3
@students   =   u4 u5 u6

repo    assignments/CREATOR/a[0-9][0-9]
    C   =   @students
    RW+ =   CREATOR
    RW  =   WRITERS @TAs
    R   =   READERS @prof

Note the "C" permission. This is a standalone "C", which gives the named users the right to create a repo. This is not to be confused with the "RWC" permission or its variants described elsewhere, which are about creating branches, not repos.

(user) creating a specific repo

For now, ignore the special usernames READERS and WRITERS, and just create a new repo, as user "u4" (a student):

$ git clone git@server:assignments/u4/a12
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/git/repositories/assignments/u4/a12.git/
warning: You appear to have cloned an empty repository.

a slightly different example

Here's how the same example would look if you did not want the CREATOR's name to be part of the actual repo name.

repo    assignments/a[0-9][0-9]
    C   =   @students
    RW+ =   CREATOR
    RW  =   WRITERS @TAs
    R   =   READERS @prof

We haven't changed anything except the repo name regex. This means that the first student that creates, say, assignments/a12 becomes the owner. Mistakes (such as claiming a12 instead of a13) need to be rectified by an admin logging on to the back end, though it's not too difficult.

You could also replace the C line like this:

    C   =   @TAs

and have a TA create the repos in advance.

repo regex patterns

regex pattern versus normal repo

Due to projects like gtk+, the + character is now considered a valid character for an ordinary repo. Therefore, a regex like foo/.+ does not look like a regex to gitolite. Use foo/..* if you want that.

Also, ..* by itself is not considered a valid repo regex. Try [a-zA-Z0-9].*. CREATOR/..* will also work.

line-anchored regexes

A regex like

repo assignments/S[0-9]+/A[0-9]+

would match assignments/S02/A37. It will not match assignments/S02/ABC, or assignments/S02/a37, obviously.

But you may be surprised to find that it does not match even assignments/S02/A37/B99. This is because internally, gitolite line-anchors the given regex; so that regex actually becomes ^assignments/S[0-9]+/A[0-9]+$ -- notice the line beginning and ending metacharacters.

Side-note: contrast with refexes

Just for interest, note that this is in contrast to the refexes for the normal "branch" permissions. Refexes are only anchored at the start; a regex like refs/heads/master actually can match refs/heads/master01/bar as well, even if no one will actually push such a branch! You can anchor both sides if you really care, by using master$ instead of master, but that is not the default for refexes.


The words READERS and WRITERS are called "role" names. The access rules in the conf file decide what permissions these roles have, but they don't say what users are in each of these roles.

That needs to be done by the creator of the repo, using the perms command. You can run ssh git@host perms -h for detailed help, but in brief, that command lets you give and take away roles to users. This has some more detail.

adding other roles

If you want to have more than just the 2 default roles, say something like:

You can add the new names to the ROLES hash in the rc file; see comments in that file for how to do that. Be sure to run the 2 commands mentioned there after you have added the roles.

repo foo/..*
  C                 =   u1
  RW    refs/tags/  =   TESTERS
  -     refs/tags/  =   @all
  RW+               =   WRITERS
  RW                =   INTERNS
  R                 =   READERS
  RW+D              =   MANAGERS


Please make sure that none of the role names conflict with any of the user names or group names in the system. For example, if you have a user called "foo" or a group called "@foo", make sure you do not include "foo" as a valid role in the ROLES hash.

You can keep things sane by using UPPERCASE names for roles, while keeping all your user and group names lowercase; then you don't have to worry about this problem.

setting default roles

You can setup some default role assignments as soon as a new wild repo is created.

Here's how:

  • Enable the 'set-default-roles' feature in the rc file by uncommenting it if it is already present or adding it to the ENABLE list if it is not.

  • Supply a set of default role assignments for a wild repo regex by adding lines like this to the repo config para:

    option default.roles-1  =   READERS @all
    option default.roles-2  =   WRITERS @senior-devs

This will then behave as if the perms command was used immediately after the repo was created to add those two role assignments.

If you want to simulate the old (pre v3.5) DEFAULT_ROLE_PERMS rc file variable, just add them under a repo @all line. (Remember that this only affects newly created wild repos, despite the '@all' name).

specifying owners

See the section on OWNER_ROLENAME in the rc file page.

listing wild repos

In order to see what repositories were created from a wildcard, use the 'info' command. Try ssh git@host info -h to get help on the info command.

deleting a wild repo

Run the whimsically named "D" command -- try ssh git@host D -h for more info on how to delete a wild repo. (Yes the command is "D"; it's meant to be a counterpart to the "C" permission that allowed you to create the repo in the first place). Of course this only works if your admin has enabled the command (gitolite ships with the command disabled for remote use).

appendix 1: owner and creator

A wild repo is created by one specific user. This user is usually called the creator of the repo: his username is placed in a file called gl-creator in the (bare) repo directory, any permissions given in the gitolite.conf file to "CREATOR" will be applicable to this user, he is the only person who can give permissions to other users (by running the 'perms' command), etc.

But, as I said in this mail:

    Until about a year ago, Gitolite only knew the concept of a "creator", and
    there was only one.

    But then people started seeing the need for more than one "owner", because
    wild repos may be *created* by one person, but they often needed to be
    *administered* by one of several people.

    So now, even though large parts of the documentation probably conflate
    "creator" and "owner", you can see wild.html ([wild]) and rc.html ([rc])
    to actually understand how this larger group become the "owner".