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17/10 — 2020
87.91 cm   5.4 min

Self-hosting Git

Earlier this week, I began migrating my repositories from Github to cgit. If you care at all about big corporates turning open-source into a T-shirt farming service, this is the way to go.


cgit is very bare bones. It is cgi-based web interface to git, and nothing more. You may browse repositories, view diffs, commit logs and even clone via http. If you are looking to replace Github with cgit, keep in mind that cgit does not handle issues or pull/merge requests. If people wish to contribute to your work, they would have to send you a patch via email.


Installing cgit is fairly straightforward, if you would like to compile it from source:

# fetch
git clone https://git.zx2c4.com && cd cgit
git submodule init
git submodule update

# install
make NO_LUA=1
sudo make install

This would drop the cgit cgi script (and the default css) into /var/www/htdocs/cgit. You may configure cgit by editing /etc/cgitrc. I specify the NO_LUA flag to compile without lua support, exclude that flag if you would like to extend cgit via lua scripts.

Going live

You might want to use, fcgiwrap, a fastcgi wrapper for cgi scripts,

sudo apt install fcgiwrap
sudo systemctl start fcgiwrap.socket

Expose the cgit cgi script to the web via nginx:

# nginx.conf
server {
  listen 80;
  server_name git.example.com;

  # serve static files
  location ~* ^.+\.(css|png|ico)$ {
    root /var/www/htdocs/cgit;

  location / {
    fastcgi_pass  unix:/run/fcgiwrap.socket;
    fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME /var/www/htdocs/cgit/cgit.cgi; # the default location of the cgit cgi script
    fastcgi_param PATH_INFO       $uri;
    fastcgi_param QUERY_STRING    $args;

Point cgit to your git repositories:

# /etc/cgitrc

Note: scan-path works best if you stick it at the end of your cgitrc.

You may now create remote repositories at /path/to/git/repos, via:

git init --bare

Add the remote to your local repository:

git remote set-url origin user@remote:/above/path
git push origin master


cgit is fairly easy to configure, all configuration options can be found in the manual, here are a couple of cool ones though:

enable-commit-graph: Generates a text based graphical representation of the commit history, similar to git log --graph --oneline.

| * |    Add support for configuration file
* | |    simplify command parsing logic
* | |    Refactor parsers
* | |    Add basic tests
* | |    Merge remote-tracking branch 'origin/master' in...
|\| |
| * |    add installation instructions for nix
| * |    switch to pancurses backendv0.2.2
| * |    bump to v0.2.2
* | |    Merge branch 'master' into feature/larger-names...
|\| |
| * |    enable feature based compilation to support win...
| * |    remove dependency on rustc v1.45, bump to v0.2....
| * |      Merge branch 'feature/windows' of https://git...
| |\ \
| | * |    add windows to github actions
| | * |    switch to crossterm backend
| | * |      Merge branch 'fix/duplicate-habits'
| | |\ \
| | | * |    move duplicate check to command parsing blo...

section-from-path: This option paired with scan-path will automatically generate sections in your cgit index page, from the path to each repo. For example, the directory structure used to generate sections on my cgit instance looks like this:

├── cli
│   ├── dijo
│   ├── eva
│   ├── pista
│   ├── taizen
│   └── xcursorlocate
├── config
│   ├── dotfiles
│   └── nixos
├── fonts
│   ├── curie
│   └── scientifica
├── languages
│   └── lisk
├── libs
│   ├── cutlass
│   └── fondant
├── terminfo
├── university
│   └── furby
└── web
    └── isostatic

Ease of use

As I mentioned before, cgit is simply a view into your git repositories, you will have to manually create new repositories by entering your remote and using git init --bare. Here are a couple of scripts I wrote to perform actions on remotes, think of it as a smaller version of Github’s gh program.

You may save these scripts as git-script-name and drop them in your $PATH, and git will automatically add an alias called script-name, callable via:

git script-name


Creates a new repository on your remote, the first arg may be a path (section/repo-name) or just the repo name:

#! /usr/bin/env bash
# usage:
# git new-repo section/repo-name
# example:
# git new-repo fonts/scientifica
# creates: user@remote:fonts/scientifica

if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
    echo "requires an arg"
    exit 1

ssh user@remote git init --bare "$1";


To set a one line repository description. It simply copies the local .git/description, into remote/description. cgit displays the contents of this file on the index page:

#! /usr/bin/env bash
# usage:
# enter repo description into .git/description and run:
# git set-desc 

remote=$(git remote get-url --push origin)
scp .git/description "$remote/description"

I'm Akshay, programmer and pixel-artist.

I write open-source stuff to pass time. I also design fonts: scientifica, curie.

Send me a mail at [email protected] or a message at [email protected].

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