Creating your private Git repository on Dropbox in less than 5 minutes

Github is the tool I use daily to manage my public software projects, I love it. But sometimes I have to quickly and temporarily share private projects with colleagues or maybe even in a mixed environment, with customers and consultants from other companies. When there is no time / money to buy private remote repos from Github or even install a local Git repo on some server,  and for privacy constraints it is not possibile to publish the code on a public Github repo, then Dropbox comes to the rescue.

In this example I'm working on a simple Web application in Flask, which is a cool Python micro-framework. I created a "flask_sample" folder which contains the code I want to version with Git and share with other colleagues.

I promised it will take less than 5 minutes, so let's start.

Move to your Dropbox folder (in my case it's in /Users/mturatti/Dropbox/) and create a folder to host all your remote git repositories:

$ cd /Users/mturatti/Dropbox/
$ mkdir git

Then create here the folder to host this remote repository:

$ cd git
$ mkdir flask_sample.git
$ cd flask_sample.git

It's time to create a bare Git repository:

$ git init --bare

You'll see it creates a structure similar to the following:

mturatti:~/Dropbox/git/flask_sample.git$ ls -l
total 24
-rw-r--r--   1 mturatti  staff   23  9 Nov 18:38 HEAD
-rw-r--r--   1 mturatti  staff  112  9 Nov 18:38 config
-rw-r--r--   1 mturatti  staff   73  9 Nov 18:38 description
drwxr-xr-x  10 mturatti  staff  340  9 Nov 18:38 hooks
drwxr-xr-x   3 mturatti  staff  102  9 Nov 18:38 info
drwxr-xr-x  11 mturatti  staff  374  9 Nov 19:09 objects
drwxr-xr-x   4 mturatti  staff  136  9 Nov 18:38 refs

Now you have in place a git structure which can act as a shareable remote repository, even if in practice it's local to your hard disk. Being a Dropbox folder will do the magic in terms of backups, sharing and synchronization.

Initialize Git in your software project as usual (in my case the local project stays in /Users/mturatti/src/flask_sample)

$ git init

This creates the usual hidden .git folder.
The last configuration step is to add locally the previously created remote Git repository:

$ git remote add origin file:///Users/mturatti/Dropbox/git/flask_sample.git

Note we are using the file:// protocol for the remote Git repository here.
If you check the content of .git/config file you'll see the new origin (in bold below):

mturatti:~/src/flask_sample$ cat .git/config 

repositoryformatversion = 0
filemode = true
bare = false
logallrefupdates = true
ignorecase = true
precomposeunicode = false
[remote "origin"]
url = file:///Users/mturatti/Dropbox/git/flask_sample.git
fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*

At this point you can start the usual Git lifecycle. For example, after you have added and committed all your files locally, you can "push to origin", which will push your code to your remote Git repository saved on Dropbox:

$ git push origin master

The last step will be to share the Dropbox folder with your colleagues, so that they can also add this as a remote repository and start cloning / pulling / pushing from this origin.