How to test a system (in isolation) which needs to `git clone`

Ryan D
3 min readFeb 13, 2021

Today I was trying to create a pipeline-as-code using Kotlin and TeamCity. I’m a huge fan of fast Feedback Loops, so my first thought was: how can I test these changes faster. And my second thought was: how can I eventually automate testing these changes.

In particular, when experimenting with the settings.kts file of the Kotlin DSL, the way you test this is to put it under a .teamcity directory in the root of your Git repository and then loading that repository in the TeamCity UI. However, that meant pushing up a settings.kts to a Git repository — and if I wanted it to be extra fast, making that repository public (rather than having to enter credentials every time I went through the ‘Create Project’ flow).

Then it hit me: what if I could expose my local settings.kts file through a local HTTP/Git server (ideally running in a Docker container)? And local-git-server was born!

Introducing Local Git Server

In a sentence: it’s a minimalistic Alpine-based Docker image for running a local HTTP Git server using Lighttpd.

WARNING: this tool is not designed for use in production. If you’re going to that, please please please use a server which supports TLS/HTTPS or SSH. This tool is HTTP-only, so communication is not encrypted. Further, I’ve tried to keep all configuration to the minimum required to make it easier for a newcomer to grok and to customise — it certainly has not been hardened.

Leveraging Git built-ins & Lighttpd

It turns out, the git tool comes with a HTTP backend built-in! It’s called git-http-backend — it’s a simple CGI program, so all it needs is a web server in front to handle.

For a web server, while you could look at something more heavyweight like Apache or Nginx+additional modules, I opted for Lighttpd which is leightweight AND comes with all required modules (including for CGI) built-in.

Getting Started

It’s a matter of cloning the repo, tweaking the volume mount in thedocker-compose.yaml, and starting up the container. For more details head to and follow the README.

Note: I could also make it as easy as publishing a Docker image that you could run with a single-line command, so if there’s demand I might hook that up :)

Integration Testing Git in CI/CD

While this tool was initially created for running locally, at some point I might create an End-To-End Test which checks a locally-running TeamCity instance can load configuration from a Git repository — and that’s where this tool could come in handy.

By being able to run a Git server locally, any integration test against a Git repository could be done in isolation from the web (great for reliability and security of your CI/CD builds!). All you need to do is run this container as part of your CI/CD pipeline, with the Git repo’s you want to test mounted in its volume.

In future I’m hoping to share how I’m using this tool in a broader development flow for testing changes to TeamCity pipelines-as-code. But I hope this tool has other uses too!



Ryan D

#DevOps, #Security, Go (#golang), #Linux, #Docker, #Kubernetes. Senior Engineering Manager @Xero. Previously: DevTools EM @Cloudflare. Opinions are my own.