How to configure external Git hosting#

All Divio applications can use the Git private server we provide. This article describes how you can instead use the Git hosting provider of your choice.


Once you have set up an external Git provider on an application, you will no longer be able to revert to Divio’s own Git server. Please ensure that this is what you want to do before using this feature.

The steps in this process are:

  1. Prepare the external Git repository

  2. Add the Git repository URL to the Control Panel (so the Control Panel can find the codebase)

  3. Add your application’s public key to the Git host (so that the Control Panel is permitted to access the repository)

  4. Test access

  5. Configure a webhook for the Git repository (recommended) (so that the repository can push events to the Control Panel)

Prepare the external Git repository#

Go to your Git hosting service. The next step depends on whether you are creating a new Divio application, or migrating an existing Divio application:

Creating a new Divio application#

In order for our Control Panel to be able to check out the Git repository, it must be able to check out the branch, with no conflicts.

  1. Create a new repository at the Git provider.

  2. Ensure the new repository has a branch (by default named main). The branch must not contain anything other than .git, LICENSE, README, or README.rst.

If these conditions are not met, the Control Panel will not accept the repository URL.

Migrating an existing Divio application#

  1. Add the Git repository to the local version of your application as a remote: git remote add external <repository URL>.

  2. Ensure that all the branches you wish to keep are present and up to date with the Divio server: git pull <branch>

  3. Push the branches you require to the new remote: git push external <branch>

Add the Git repository URL to the Control Panel#

You will need to supply the URL (SSH URLs are recommended, but you can also use HTTPS URLs) of your new repository to the Control Panel. The next step depends on whether this is a new or existing Divio application:

Creating a new Divio application#

  • Select Repository > Custom in the application creation page.

Migrating an existing Divio application#

  1. Select Repository from your application’s menu in the Dashboard.

  2. Select Migrate to external repository.

Add your application’s public key to the Git host#

The Divio Control Panel will provide you with a public key to add to the Git host, allowing our infrastructure to access the repository (see below for HTTPS).

Copy the key, and add it to the Git repository:

'GitHub' GitHub#

  1. In the repository, go to Settings > Deploy keys > Add deploy key.

  2. Paste the key.

  3. Select Allow write access.

'GitLab' GitLab#

  1. In the repository, go to Settings > Repository > Deploy keys > Create a new deploy key.

  2. Paste the key.

  3. Select Write access allowed.

'BitBucket' BitBucket#

  1. Optionally, create a Bitbucket account specifically for Divio applications - otherwise the key will grant access to all your Bitbucket applications.

  2. Go to Bitbucket settings > SSH keys > Add key.

  3. Paste the key.

Test access#

When you hit Continue in the Control Panel, it tests its access by performing a git pull action. If successful, the application Dashboard will show the repository URL.

Using the external Git remote#

Your external Git remote has now been set up.

The Control Panel can save commits to it (using the key you provided) and the repository can send a signal to the Control Panel to pull in new commits when they land (using the webhook).

Remote Git: Reset to origin#

For applications with external git repositories, especially if commits are force pushed, the application’s repository on the control panel may not reflect all the commits made in its remote repository at origin.

To reset to remote, go to the repository view of the application’s control panel and select reset to origin and the repository will reflect the commit history of the remote origin.

Options and special cases#

Read-only access to the repository#

In most cases, you will want to allow write access to the repository. This is the standard configuration and gives you full access to the benefits of the Divio addon system, in which the Control Panel records interface actions and addon configuration as Git commits.

It’s also possible to maintain stricter control over the repository, allowing only read access. In this case, application configuration that would normally be maintained via the Control Panel must be undertaken manually.

Write access is required to set up the external Git configuration, but may be disabled subsequently.

HTTPS authentication#

By default, the Control Panel will assume that you will be using SSH authentication to the Git provider, which is preferred.

However, HTTPS can be useful in environments where SSH is not permitted, and is available if you explicitly provide an HTTPS URL.

You can give the Divio application access to the Git repository over HTTPS by providing the Git hosting username and a personal access token.

This is disabled for those providers that would allow us to connect using your password. In accordance with our security policies, Divio will not request or store your passwords for other services.

Some Git providers enforce the use of personal access tokens for HTTPs, rather than allowing passwords to be used. However, GitHub, GitLab and BitBucket all permit HTTPS authentication using account passwords, and for this reason we do not permit HTTPS as an authentication method for these platforms.

Errors and what they mean#

The remote repository requires a branch#

The Control Panel expected to find a branch (by default named main) at the remote.

If the Divio application uses the Custom tracking branches feature, then whatever branch is used for the Test environment should be present at the remote.

Check the repository for the expected branch.

Authentication error#

The most likely problem is that one or more of:

are not correct. Check these values.

The Control Panel not being able to accept the repository URL (the branch)#

The branch (by default named main) at the remote repository must exist and only include a single readme file.

Check that no other files are in the branch.

You have no webhook set up#

Although the Control Panel has been able to connect to the repository and authenticate, a webhook has not yet been set up.

This is not necessarily an error, but it does mean that your Divio application will not automatically receive signals from the remote when new commits are made to it, and so you will need to use the manual Update button to pull new changes to your application.

Using webhooks is recommended.