Caius Theory

Now with even more cowbell…

Ignore .gitignore in Git

Recently I ran into an issue where I was working on a project which had files I wanted git to ignore, but I didn't want to commit a .gitignore file into the project. In case you don't know, any files matching a pattern in .gitignore in a git repository are ignored by git. (Unless the file(s) have already been committed, then they need removing from git before they are ignored.)

Initially I figured I could just throw the patterns I needed excluded into my global ~/.gitignore, but quickly realised that I needed files matching these patterns to show up in other git repos, so going the global route really wasn't an option. After some thought I wondered if you could make git ignore .gitignore, whilst still getting it to ignore files matching the other patterns in the .gitignore.

Lets create a new empty repo to test this crazy idea in:

$ mkdir foo
$ cd foo
$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /Volumes/Brutus/Users/caius/foo/.git/

And create a couple of files for us to play with:

$ touch bar
$ touch baz

Ignore one of the files so we can check other matches are still ignored later on:

$ echo "baz" >> .gitignore
$ git status
# On branch master
# Initial commit
# Untracked files:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)
#       .gitignore
#       bar
nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)

Ok so far, but we can still see .gitignore in git, so now for the crazy shindig, ignore the ignore file:

$ echo ".gitignore" >> .gitignore 

Lets see if it worked, or if we can still see our .gitignore:

$ git status
# On branch master
# Initial commit
# Untracked files:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)
#       bar
nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)

And lets just double-check that .gitignore and baz still exist on the filesystem:

$ ls -a
.  ..  .git  .gitignore  bar  baz

Fantastic! Turns out adding ".gitignore" to .gitignore works perfectly. The file is still parsed by git to ignore everything else too, so it does exactly what I needed in this instance.

Automatically Deploying Website From Remote Git Repository

Before I start, I'll just quickly run through where I put stuff on my server. Apache logs and config are in the ubuntu default folders: /var/log/apache2 and /etc/apache2/ respectively.

Websites:  /home/caius/vhosts/<domain name>/htdocs
Git Repos: /home/caius/git/<domain name>.git

So I have a git repo locally, ~/projects/, and want to deploy it to my webserver. I'll keep the git repo in ~/git/ and set it up so that when I push to the repo (over ssh) it will automatically checkout the new changes into the website's htdocs folder.

I'm assuming DNS is already setup (or I've used ghost to map it locally.) And that I've setup the virtualhost in apache pointing at /home/caius/vhosts/ and reloaded apache so the config is in place.

Remote Machine

We create a bare git repo, then point the working tree at the docroot of our website. This means all the git stuff is kept in the somesite.git folder, but the files themselves are checked out to the website's folder. Then we setup a post-receive hook to update the worktree folder after new changes have been pushed to the repo.

$ cd git
$ mkdir somesite.git
$ cd somesite.git/
$ git init --bare
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/caius/git/somesite.git/
$ git --bare update-server-info
$ git config core.worktree /home/caius/vhosts/
$ git config core.bare false
$ git config receive.denycurrentbranch ignore
$ cat > hooks/post-receive
git checkout -f
$ chmod +x hooks/post-receive

Local Machine

And now on the client machine we add the remote repo as a git remote, and then push to it.

$ git remote add web ssh://myserver/home/caius/git/somesite.git
$ git push web +master:refs/heads/master
Counting objects: 3, done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 229 bytes, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
To ssh://myserver/home/caius/git/somesite.git
 * [new branch]      master -> master

All Done

And now if you go to you'll see the contents of your git repo there. ( is just an example url though, I don't actually own it!)

Helpful URLs

Adding a remote to existing git repo

Usually for me this happens when I have an existing project and I setup a github repo for it. As part of the setup for the github project, it gives you the commands to run to add the github repo as a remote to my local git repo.

cd existing_git_repo
git remote add origin
git push origin master

The problem then is you've added the remote account, but the local master branch isn't tracking the remote master branch, so when you try and just git pull it will fail with a message telling you to set the remote refs up.

$ git pull  
You asked me to pull without telling me which branch you  
want to merge with, and 'branch.master.merge' in  
your configuration file does not tell me either.  Please  
name which branch you want to merge on the command line and  
try again (e.g. 'git pull <repository> <refspec>').  
See git-pull(1) for details on the refspec.  

If you often merge with the same branch, you may want to  
configure the following variables in your configuration  

    branch.master.remote = <nickname>
    branch.master.merge = <remote-ref>
    remote.<nickname>.url = <url>
    remote.<nickname>.fetch = <refspec>

See git-config(1) for details.

The answer is to do what it says funnily enough, and add the remote refs tracking to the config file. The easiest way I've found of doing this is to edit .git/config and add the following at the bottom of it.

[branch "master"]
    remote = origin
    merge = refs/heads/master

Remember to change the branch or remote names if you need to.

Once you've added that to the config you can run git pull on the master branch and it'll do the usual automagical thing and pull the remote master branch changes into the local one!

Updated 2008-11-09

See Ciarán's comment below for an all-inclusive command to do the above.

Setting up git with rails apps

When I create a new rails app, I'm constantly going back to another project and stealing the .gitignore file from it to make sure that git doesn't know about certain files rails either updates frequently, or stores machine-specific data in. The latter is generally just config/database.yml, because I develop alongside my colleagues at Brightbox and we deploy via capistrano, we always put the database.yml file in the shared directory on the server, so we each have our own version with our local credentials in it locally. And thus we don't want it to be tracked by git.

Here's what I've collated from various sources over the few weeks I've been using git + rails everyday.



# OS X only

Then to make sure log/ and tmp/ are tracked, convention is to add a blank .gitkeep file in them.

touch log/.gitkeep
touch tmp/.gitkeep