This tutorial explains how to set up a wiki such that:

  • the machine running Ikiwiki is not the same as the one hosting the git repository;
  • changes can be done using CGI;
  • changes can be done using git (using ssh protocol).

This configuration may be useful when:

  • you do not want (or cannot) connect to the machine hosting your wiki using git or ssh;
  • you do not want (or cannot) publish web content on the machine hosting you remotely accessible git repository.

I assume the rcs used is git, but it might be done for other rcs.

Similar and related tips and problems


By default, when creating a wiki, Ikiwiki creates and uses two repositories: a bare repository, and a « slave » repository, used as the source to render the wiki. All of these are on the same machine.

Instead of having the bare repository hosted on the same machine, we will host it on a remote machine, and tell Ikiwiki to use it instead of its local one. We will also ensure that the wiki is rendered whenever a commit is done to the git repository.


  • We are building a wiki called SITE.
  • The machine running Ikiwiki and a web server is called the Ikiwiki machine.
  • The machine hosting the git repository is called the git machine. Users can make git pull and push to this machine.

Let's go!

Creating ssh keys on the Ikiwiki machine

  • Create a pair of ssh keys, not password-protected (as they will be used by script). Let's call them id_SITE and These keys will be used by the ikiwiki machine to connect to the git machine.

Creating and setting up a repository on the git machine

  • Create a repository SITE.git on the git machine (using git init --bare), and ensure that public key can pull from and push to this repository (using ~/.ssh/config or by setting the right permissions on gitolite or gitosis).

Creating the wiki on the ikiwiki machine

  • Create the wiki following the regular procedure. You should have, among others, a directory SITE.git, being the master git repository, and a directory SITE, clone of SITE.git, used as source directory to render the wiki.
  • Ensure that your web server can serve the rendered wiki, and that changes can be done with CGI.

Configuring the wiki on the wiki machine so that it uses the repository of the git machine

  • Configure ssh so that it uses the ssh key id_SITE to connect to the git machine: add the following lines to file ~/.ssh/config on the ikiwiki machine:

          User git-machine-user
          IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_SITE
  • Configure the local copy SITE of the wiki (on the ikiwiki machine) to use the remote git repository instead of the local SITE.git. To do so, in the file SITE/.git/config, replace the lines:

      [remote "origin"]
             url = /path/to/SITE.git
             fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*

    by the lines:

      [remote "origin"]
              url =
              fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
  • In this repository (SITE), run git pull and git push to ensure that everything works fine. It works fine when you will be able to run git pull and git push without user interaction.

  • Disable the post-update hook in ikiwiki: it is used if the git commits are done on this machine, which is no longer the case. To do so, in file SITE.setup, comment the line:

      git_wrapper => '/path/to/SITE.git/hooks/post-update',
  • Tell Ikiwiki to push to the ikiwiki machine when a commit is done by the web (CGI). To do so, in file SITE.setup, add the line:

      git_wrapper_background_command => 'git push',
  • Enable plugin pingee. It allows git (on the git machine) to tell ikiwiki to update and rebuild the wiki when commits are done on the git repository, using only an http connection. To do so, add pingee to the list of enabled plugins (variable add_plugins in file SITE.setup).

  • Rebuild the wiki (since you chaned the setup file SITE.setup).

      ikiwiki --setup SITE.setup --rebuild --verbose

Configure the git repository (on the git machine) to update the wiki after a push

Add in the post-receive hook (file SITE.git/hooks/post-receive):

  git log -1 --format=format:%ae HEAD | grep -e '@web$' -e 'USER@HOST' ||  wget "http://WIKI-URL/ikiwiki.cgi?do=ping" -O /dev/stdout

If your wiki is password protected, use:

  git log -1 --format=format:%ae HEAD | grep -e '@web$' -e 'USER@HOST' ||  wget "http://LOGIN:PASSWORD@WIKI-URL/ikiwiki.cgi?do=ping" -O /dev/stdout

The bit before wget is here to prevent updating the wiki while it is updating, which can lead to a deadlock. Indeed, when the wiki is edited via web, or a tag page is automatically added, IkiWiki pushes the changes to the Git machine. Then, the hook on this latter machine tries to pull changes from the IkiWiki machine, and here is the deadlock. Explanations of the command:

  • git log -1 --format=format:%ae HEAD: Looks for the user name of the latest commit.
  • grep -e '@web$' -e 'USER@HOST': Check whether this last commit was pushed from the IkiWiki machine (changeUSER@HOST` to the appropriate string).
  • wget ...: If the last commit does not come from the IkiWiki machine (which means it comes from another machine), update the wiki.

Going further

  • Web server on a third machine It should be possible to use a third machine to host the web server, using this documentation.
  • Using gitolite to manage repositories on the git machine Simply replace the manipulations of git on the git machine by the corresponding manipulations using gitolite.
    • With gitolite, you can use this line in a post-update hook:

      [ x"$GL_USER" = x"gitolite-user" ] || wget ... where gitolite-user is the name of the public key registered through gitolite.

      Thus, you filter out precisely the events that originate from the server-to-be-pinged, no matter what the commit id says. (For example, if you push commits you created on a local CGI ikiwiki, they'd be called '@web' as well).