I spent a little bit of time this weekend tinkering on a small project I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. Google’s new(ish) language Go seemed like a good candidate for the project. One of the great features of Go is that your can import external code sources relatively easily. I have a small private repository at home and I wanted to simplify the process of importing the code and maintaining the repositories. In the end, I chose Gitolite + Gitweb on an Arch Linux system. Here is how I did it.


Since we are using git, you’ll want to make sure you have that installed. We will also be using Apache httpd for gitweb and to facilitate go’s remote import mechanism. On an Arch Linux system, you can do that in a terminal with:

pacman -S git apache  

The git package will create a git user that we will use during this process. The user needs a little help though. As root:

usermod -d /srv/git git
passwd -d git

We are simply telling the system that the users home directory should be /srv/git and it should not have a password (i.e. can’t log in). Make the home directory and give it the proper permissions:

mkdir /srv/git
chown git.git /srv/git
chmod 750 /srv/git

We also want the http user to be in the git group so that gitweb can read files from /srv/git and then restart httpd. You can do this by running the following commands:

usermod -a -G git http
systemctl restart httpd.service

From this point on, I’ll presume you are using the git user and are in his $HOME directory unless otherwise specified.


Gitolite is a great git repository management tool that is used by quite a few high profile project (e.g. the Linux kernel). The big advantages it has over using the standard git tools like git-daemon or git-http-backend is that it is extremely simple to use and you can manage it remotely once it is setup.

I simply pull the latest from GitHub and do the install:

git clone git://github.com/sitaramc/gitolite
mkdir $HOME/bin
gitolite/install -ln

Gitolite uses SSH for authentication via public keys. As such, you’ll want to have your public key somewhere on the system. I copied mine to /tmp/username.pub. Make sure your file’s base name is the name of the user you plan to log in with when accessing the repositories. Then run the setup:

bin/gitolite setup /tmp/username.pub

I made a few changes in $HOME/.gitolite.rc to facilitate httpd being able to access the repositories. Modify the UMASK and GIT_CONFIG_KEYS to:

UMASK           => 0027,
GIT_CONFIG_KEYS => 'gitweb\.(owner|description|category)*',

This will give the git group the ability to read the repositories and allow the gitolite configuration file to store some basic gitweb configuration options. Finally, make sure that the repositories path is accessible by the git group:

chmod g+rx repositories

Gitolite is ready to use! You configure it and setup repositories by cloning the gitolite-admin repository:

git clone [email protected]:gitolite-admin

Here is my conf/gitolite.conf file:

@webs = config testing

repo gitolite-admin
    RW+     =   jmarsh

repo config
    RW+     =   jmarsh
  config gitweb.owner = [email protected]
  config gitweb.description = A recursive JSON config parser.

repo testing
    RW+     =   @all
  config gitweb.owner = [email protected]
  config gitweb.description = A test playground for connection and gitolite.

repo @webs
  R       =   gitweb

I setup the @webs group to allow gitolite to manage the projects list. The user gitweb is a special user for gitolite. Any repository that givea that user read (R) permissions will be added to the file $HOME/projects.list. Gitweb can then use this file to display the repositories you want visible. Any repositories that you want gitweb to display simply need to be added to the @webs group. You can see Gitolite’s documentation for more information on what the rest of the configurations mean.

Once you are satisfied with your configurations, commit the changes and push it back to the server. Gitolite will do the rest, including creating new repositories as necessary. Remember, gitolite will use the SSH public key you gave it for authentication, so make sure you are pushing from a system that has the corresponding private key.


Gitweb comes with git and is fairly easy to setup. I decided to use Apache httpd (mostly because I’m more familiar with it) which adds a few steps, but it is still relatively simple. You’ll need to edit the following configuration files and restart httpd as root. I’m presuming you have a fresh install of httpd, so let’s add a virtual host. Find the line below in /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf and uncomment it:

Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Now edit /etc/httpd/conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf and add the virtual host at the end of the file:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName    gitserver
    ServerAlias   git.hostname.com
    DocumentRoot  /srv/http/gitweb
    SetEnv        GITWEB_CONFIG   /etc/conf.d/git-web.conf
    <Directory /srv/http/gitweb>
            Options ExecCGI FollowSymLinks
        AddHandler cgi-script cgi
        DirectoryIndex gitweb.cgi
        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
        RewriteRule ^.* /gitweb.cgi/$0 [L,PT]

If you aren’t using an Arch Linux package of httpd, you may need to figure out the right place to add your virtual host, but the virtual host information should work as is. We are basically using the gitweb script as a CGI script. Since we are using /srv/http/gitweb as the base directory, we’ll want to symlink that to gitweb’s working directory:

ln -s /usr/share/gitweb /srv/http/gitweb

Next, restart httpd:

systemctl restart httpd.service

With that done, we only need to modify gitweb’s configuration file /etc/conf.d/git-web.conf. Here is what mine looks like:

our $git_temp = "/tmp";
our $site_name = "git repos";
our $projectroot = "/srv/git/repositories";
our $projects_list = "/srv/git/projects.list";

$feature{'highlight'}{'default'} = [1];

@git_base_url_list = ( "ssh://git\@git.hostname.com" );

# We want to append the path request from the go get which we can get
# from the REQUEST_URI
$go_repo_path = $ENV{'REQUEST_URI'};
$go_repo_path =~ s/\?.*//g;
$go_prefix = $go_repo_path;
if ($go_repo_path !~ m/\.git$/ && $go_repo_path !~ m/\/$/) { $go_repo_path .= ".git"; }
our $site_html_head_string = "";

The first half of the file is fairly common gitweb configuring. Note that we set the $projects_list to be the projects.list file that Gitolite is generating. The magic for Go happens in the last half of the file. Go can pull from external version control systems (VCS), but the format seemed bulky to me. Originally, I had to use an import similar to:

import "git.hostname.com/git/testing.git/package"

The addition of the meta tag to Gitweb’s pages made it possible to import with something much more readable and more akin to importing from a public repository like GitHub.

import "git.hostname.com/testing/package"

The Perl code essentially uses some regular expressions to generate a meta tag that Go’s remote pulling feature will recognize. In order for it to work seamlessly Go needs the meta tag to include the exact path being imported to map to an exact repository. We can get that information from the REQUEST_URI that Go sends Gitweb. So, in my example import above, the meta tag would end up looking something like:

<meta name="go-import" content="git.hostname.com/testing git ssh://git\@git.hostname.com/testing.git\"></meta>

It Works!

With that done, Gitweb is now setup to work well with Go’s remote import feature. I can run something like

go get git.hostname.com/config

to get the package, or simply import that in other code and Go will fetch it for me.

All of this came together after a lot of searching on the internet. Here are some links I used to get this all working: