Notes and anecdotes

Techstuff rambling

Git repo on FTP-server

Often, you have to deal with limited web hotels that only provide a customly made (and usually poor) administration page, FTP- and SQL-access. How can you, on a cheap web hotel, use git without ssh access?

If you’re comfortable giving your git-password and ftp-password to a third party, using deployhq is a simple and better alternative to the method below (guide here).


Let’s call the cheap hotel for “SimpleHost” and your own server/machine for “MyAwesomeClient”.

  • You have FTP-access to SimpleHost. 
  • You have sudo on MyAwesomeClient
  • MyAwesomeClient has git

Incorrect Step-by-step (How you hope it would’ve been):

  1. Connect from MyAwesomeClient to SimpleHost with FTP from the command line.
  2. Use git as normally.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it is. You’ll get stuff like :

fatal: Unable to create temporary file: Operation not supported

Step-by-step (How it is):

git clone
cd git-ftp
git tags
git checkout 0.9.0  # Replace this with the newest version
sudo make install

You now have git-ftp installed, and can safely remove the folder

cd ..
rm -rf git-ftp

Go to your local repo that you want tracked remotely and initialize it remotely with

cd my_clean_repo
git ftp init -u [username] -p [password]

Make changes locally and upload them to the server with

git ftp push -u [username] -p [password]


  • You can’t track changes done on the remote server.
  • It is careless with remote files. That is, if a file that is tracked in the local repository is changed on the remote server AND the local server, git ftp will overwrite it without warning.
  • The two above is important to have in mind when collaborating with others.

Worth mentioning

  • You can set default ftp paths and login info. See git ftp man page
  • You can use sftp, ftps, ftpes as well.
  • You can skip specifying password in the command line, and will then be prompted instead.

tomfa • 2014-03-03

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