Git submodules and ssh access

If possible, it’s best to make sure that the .gitmodules file contains a URL for the repository that can be cloned by anyone, typically either a git:// or http:// URL. Then users that have SSH access themselves can change into the submodule after cloning and change the URL in remote.origin.url to point to an SSH URL with their username, e.g.:

 cd my-submodule
 git remote set-url origin otheruser@server:/pathtorepos

The other user should be able to do that even in the current situation. Update: Chris Johnsen points out below that it’s also reasonable to use an SSH URL in .gitmodules if you omit the username and all the users of the repository will have SSH access – they’ll need to add their username similarly to the above if it differs locally and remotely.

Note that the URLs in .gitmodules are only used when initializing the submodule. Initializing the submodule sets the config value submodule.<SUBMODULE-NAME>.url in the main project to whatever’s committed in .gitmodules – this is the value that will be used on the first submodule update. Between initializing and updating the submodule, you can also change this URL that will be used for that first update with a command like:

git config otheruser@server:/pathtorepos

Indeed, you may need to do this if the first update fails. Once the submodule has been updated for the first time, the URL you need to change is that defined for origin within the submodule – at that point it’s only useful to set the config value in the main project if you’re likely to be deleting and re-updating the submodule.

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