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trevcan, 2022-05-13 18:56
add authentication over http test code

How to set up a git server over HTTP (s)

DRAFT. This is still a Work-in-progress article.

One may have already set up a git server, it's as easy as enabling ssh on a *NIX machine.

But one may have encountered the not-so-usual situation where you're on a random network
and you can't access port 22!.

This is a guide on how to set up a git over HTTPs server.
The git protocol used for this will be Smart HTTP, refer to the references section.

Step 1: Permissions, permissions and more permissions!


Permissions are very important ! Remember that git will be performing reads and writes to directories and files ! Be sure to set up your user and group correctly. You may have to chmod and chown your git repo in order for it to be accessible to your user. You cannot change user/group at runtime of lighttpd.

Step 2: Dependencies and Modules.

For system dependencies, you will require (of course)
- git (make sure you have the /usr/lib/git-core/git-http-backend binary, this should be installed by default with the git package on Arch Linux)

For lighttpd modules, you will require:
- mod_cgi
- mod_alias
- mod_setenv
- mod_auth (optional) with mod_authn_file.

Step 3: Bare Minimum Config for specific repos.

You must use a subdomain or another domain altogether , else the CGI script will get confused and won't
be able to read the paths correctly.

The bare minimum to get the CGI git-http-backend script working is:
- set the environment variable GIT_PROJECT_ROOT to the parent directory of one of your git repositories.
- create a git-daemon-export-ok file inside each git repo you'd like to make accessible.

server.modules += ("mod_setenv", "mod_cgi", "mod_alias")

$HTTP["host"] == "" {

    alias.url = ( "" => "/usr/lib/git-core/git-http-backend" )

    setenv.set-environment = ( "GIT_PROJECT_ROOT" => "/var/www/git/" )

    cgi.assign = ( "" => "" )

the code above assumes:
- your domain is only used for this CGI script.
- /var/www/git/ is a directory with bare git repositories inside them.
- and each repository (server-side) has a git-daemon-export-ok file inside it.

Step 4: Adding automatic repo discovery

Ok, you've got a basic config working. Now you'd like some kind of automatic
discovery so that you don't have to manually add each git repo.

One can do this by setting the environment variable GIT_HTTP_EXPORT_ALL:

setenv.set-environment += ( "GIT_HTTP_EXPORT_ALL" => "" )

remember that you should use the += operator when wanting to append variables. See

Great! Now you can clone any repo under /var/www/git/.

Step 5: Adding Authentication through HTTP.

According to the git Smart HTTP docs, git itself does not implement any kind
of security. That is the job of the web server, in our case, lighttpd.

We can implement security by adding HTTP authentication.

Refer to the Mod Auth guide.

The following would only allow authenticated users to clone from and push to repositories:

server.modules += ("mod_setenv", "mod_cgi", "mod_alias")
server.modules += ("mod_auth", "mod_authn_file")
# using mod auth with plain text module mod_authhn_file

$HTTP["host"] == "" {

        auth.backend = "plain" 
        auth.backend.plain.userfile = "/home/www-data/user-info" 
# password file is at /home/www-data/user-info
# example plain-text password file:
# agent007:secret

        auth.require = ( "" => ("method" => "basic", "realm" => "example", "require" => "valid-user") )
# this must be set to require auth under this domain.

    alias.url = ( "" => "/usr/lib/git-core/git-http-backend" )

    setenv.set-environment = ( "GIT_PROJECT_ROOT" => "/var/www/git/" )
    setenv.set-environment += ( "GIT_HTTP_EXPORT_ALL" => "" )

    cgi.assign = ( "" => "" )



You could also set it up so that only git over HTTPS works! so that no passwords
are passed in plain-text through http.

Final config.

- assumes domain
- uses @


- Smart HTTP git docs:

Updated by trevcan 7 months ago · 10 revisions