Use local Git repos for personal work

Sat, Feb 20, 2021 2-minute read

I’ve heard a lot of online arguments about whether you should host your Git-based projects in GitHub or GitLab, but a lot of them miss an obvious option. Is this repo for your own personal work that you don’t intend to share with others? Great! You can host unlimited, free, completely private repositories on your own system. Here’s the complete process:

$ mkdir -p ~/src/myproject
$ cd ~/src/myproject
$ git init --bare
$ cd ~
$ git clone ~/src/myproject
$ cd myproject

There, you’re done. Now you have a 100% fully functional Git repo that doesn’t require a network connection and supports every single Git feature. Pull it, push it, branch it, revert it, whatever: it’s your own repo and you can do whatever you want with it. And you don’t have to sign up for anything, or agree to a Terms of Service, or share your work, or trust a company you don’t know very well.

If you want to move your repo to another server later, you can copy ~/src/myproject to its new home via whatever means you find most convenient, use git remote set-url origin [...] to point your existing work toward the new location, and then go on about your business as usual without changing any of your workflow.

GitHub and GitLab have a lot of nice features that may be totally irrelevant if you’re not collaborating with a team. Never forget that you can host Git projects yourself, easily and for free.

Oh, and if you do find yourself needing to work with a handful of people and don’t need all of the integration features of the commercial options, I highly recommend Gitea. It’s a tiny little service you can host yourself and it takes very few resources. I use it whenever I need my Git repo to be accessible across the Internet.