Step-by-Step Guide: Setting Up a Git Repository Hosting Server

Step-by-Step Guide: Setting Up a Git Repository Hosting Server

If you're looking for a reliable and secure way to host your Git repositories, setting up your own server can be a great solution. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating your own Git repository hosting server, from prerequisites to configuration, storage management, and even implementing public key authentication. By following these straightforward instructions, you'll gain complete control over your codebase and enjoy seamless collaboration with your team members.

The Why

While hosting providers like GitHub and GitLab offer convenient and feature-rich solutions for hosting Git repositories, there are scenarios where hosting your own repository becomes a preferred option. Firstly, hosting your own Git repository provides you with complete control over your code and infrastructure. This level of control ensures that you can customize your server environment, implement specific security measures, and tailor the setup to meet your organization's unique requirements. Additionally, self-hosting allows for enhanced privacy and data sovereignty, as your code remains within your own network. This can be crucial for organizations dealing with sensitive or proprietary code. By hosting your own Git repository, you can have a higher degree of autonomy, customization, and security, making it an appealing choice for those seeking full ownership and control over their codebase.


  • A working Linux server machine

  • You are logged in as a non-root user with sudo privileges

Install git

If it isn't already installed, install git.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install -y git

Global Configuration

Set a default initial branch name in git

git config --global init.defaultBranch master

Feel free to change the name master above to anything you like. While master is the traditional default, main is also common.

Configure git to reconcile divergent branches by merging changes, rather than rebasing.

git config --global pull.rebase false

pull.rebase false is a preference. But either true or false, the configuration option must be set.

Create Storage Directory

You'll need a place to store any git repositories. To keep things organized, create a separate directory for them.

mkdir ~/repos

Your server is now ready to host git repositories. Next, you should start creating new repositories on the server that developers can pull from and push to.

Create and set permissions

Initialize a bare repository in the home directory.

git init --bare ~/repos/[repo name]

Change [repo name] to a name of your choosing. Example: my-app

Write a descriptive name or short description of the repository.

echo "Some short description" > ~/repos/[repo name]/description

Now developers who can authenticate as this local user can clone, pull from, and push to this repository.

Working with the Remote Repository

First, clone the repository from the server to your development machine.

git clone ssh://[username]@[your server's IP address/hostname][path to repository]


git clone ssh://myuser@myserver/home/myuser/repos/my-app

You can use localhost as the hostname as long as...

  1. you're using a virtual machine,

  2. you're running git clone from the host machine, and

  3. you have port 22 forwarded

You will be prompted to enter password for myuser.

A new directory named my-app (or whatever your repository is named) is created on your development machine. Change into it.

cd myrepo

You can pull any new changes from the remote repository at any time.

git pull

And you can push your changes to it.

git push

Public Key Authentication

If you haven't set up public key authentication...

  1. you will need to share the password for myuser with each developer who needs pull/push access.

  2. Developers will also need to enter the password each time they pull/push.

Neither of the above conditions is ideal. You can solve both of these issues by setting up public key authentication.

Make sure you have...

  • set up public key authentication on your server

  • added your public key to the server user's authorized_keys file

  • added your server as a configured host on your workstation

I wrote a separate blog article with instructions for all of these things.

With a configured host, users can interact with a server using the alias in the configuration file.

git clone ssh://myuser@myserver/home/myuser/repos/myrepo

The name myserver here is the name of the configured host set up in ~/.ssh/config, not necessarily the server's hostname (although they can be the same).

You will be asked for your SSH key passphrase rather than the server user's password. This eliminates the need to share that password.

If you don't want to enter the SSH key passphrase each time, you can use an SSH agent (recommended - find more information online) or you can use a key pair with an empty passphrase (not recommended).

Setting up your own Git repository hosting server is an efficient and secure way to manage your code. With the clear steps we've outlined in this guide, you can easily create a server tailored to your needs, ensuring the confidentiality and accessibility of your codebase. By taking ownership of your Git hosting, you can streamline your development workflow, enhance collaboration, and maintain complete control over your repositories. Start hosting your Git repositories on your own server today and experience the benefits firsthand.

Cover photo by Tony Litvyak on Unsplash.