Use pre-receive hook scripts to create requirements for accepting or rejecting a push based on the contents.

Writing a pre-receive hook script

A pre-receive hook script executes in a pre-receive hook environment on the GitHub Enterprise appliance. When you create a pre-receive hook script, consider the available input, output, exit-status and environment variables.

Input (stdin)

After a push occurs and before any refs are updated on the remote repository, the git-receive-pack process invokes the pre-receive hook script with the standard input of one line per ref to be updated:

<old-value> SP <new-value> SP <ref-name> LF

This string represents these arguments:

Argument Description
<old-value> Old object name stored in the ref.
When you create a new ref, this equals 40 zeroes.
<new-value> New object name to be stored in the ref.
When you delete a ref, this equals 40 zeroes.
<ref-name> The full name of the ref.

For more information on git-receive-pack see "git-receive-pack" in the Git documentation. For more information about refs see "Git References" in Pro Git.

Output (stdout)

The script output (stdout) is passed back to the client, so any echo statements are visible to the user on the command line or in the user interface.


The exit-status of a pre-receive script determines if the push will be accepted.

Exit-status Value Action
0 The push will be accepted.
non-zero The push will be rejected.

Environment variables

Outside of the values that are provided to stdin, there are additional variables that are available to a pre-receive hook script running on GitHub Enterprise.

Variable Description
$GITHUB_USER_LOGIN The user id who created the ref.
$GIT_DIR The path of the remote repository on the appliance.
$GITHUB_USER_IP The IP Address of the user performing the push.
$GITHUB_REPO_NAME The name of the repository being updated.
$GITHUB_PULL_REQUEST_AUTHOR_LOGIN The user ID for the author of a pull request opened on your instance.
$GITHUB_REPO_PUBLIC A boolean value that when true represents a public repository, and when false represents a private repository.
$GITHUB_PUBLIC_KEY_FINGERPRINT The user's public key fingerprint.
$GITHUB_PULL_REQUEST_HEAD A string in the format: user:branch for the HEAD of the PR.
Example: octocat:fix-bug
$GITHUB_PULL_REQUEST_BASE A string in the format: user:branch for the BASE of the PR.
Example: octocat:master
$GITHUB_VIA Method used to create the ref.
Possible values:
- auto-merge deployment api
- blob edit
- branch merge api
- branches page delete button
- git refs create api
- git refs delete api
- git refs update api
- merge api
- pull request branch delete button
- pull request branch undo button
- pull request merge api
- pull request merge button
- pull request revert button
- releases delete button
- stafftools branch restore
- slumlord (#{sha})

Setting permissions and pushing a pre-receive hook to GitHub Enterprise

A pre-receive hook script is contained in a repository on the GitHub Enterprise appliance. A site administrator must take into consideration the repository permissions and ensure that only the appropriate users have access.

We recommend consolidating hooks to a single repository. If the consolidated hook repository is public, the can be used to explain policy enforcements. Also, contributions can be accepted via pull requests. However, pre-receive hooks can only be added from the default branch. For a testing workflow, forks of the repository with configuration should be used.

  1. For Mac users, ensure the scripts have execute permissions:

    sudo chmod +x

    For Windows users, ensure the scripts have execute permissions:

    git update-index --chmod=+x
  2. Commit and push to your designated pre-receive hooks repository on the GitHub Enterprise instance.

    git commit -m "YOUR COMMIT MESSAGE"
    git push
  3. Create the pre-receive hook on the GitHub Enterprise instance.

Testing pre-receive scripts locally

You can test a pre-receive hook script locally before you create or update it on your GitHub Enterprise appliance. One method is to create a local Docker environment to act as a remote repository that can execute the pre-receive hook.

  1. Ensure Docker is installed locally.

  2. Create a file called containing:

    FROM gliderlabs/alpine:3.3
    RUN \
    apk add --no-cache git openssh bash && \
    ssh-keygen -A && \
    sed -i "s/#AuthorizedKeysFile/AuthorizedKeysFile/g" /etc/ssh/sshd_config && \
    adduser git -D -G root -h /home/git -s /bin/bash && \
    passwd -d git && \
    su git -c "mkdir /home/git/.ssh && \
    ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f /home/git/.ssh/id_rsa -P '' && \
    mv /home/git/.ssh/ /home/git/.ssh/authorized_keys && \
    mkdir /home/git/test.git && \
    git --bare init /home/git/test.git"
    VOLUME ["/home/git/.ssh", "/home/git/test.git/hooks"]
    WORKDIR /home/git
    CMD ["/usr/sbin/sshd", "-D"]
  3. Create a test pre-receive script called This example script will reject all pushes, which is useful for locking a repository:

    #!/usr/bin/env bash
    echo "error: rejecting all pushes"
    exit 1
  4. Ensure the scripts has execute permissions:

    chmod +x
  5. From the directory containing, build an image:

    docker build -f -t .
    Sending build context to Docker daemon 3.584 kB
    Step 1 : FROM gliderlabs/alpine:3.3
     ---> 8944964f99f4
    Step 2 : RUN apk add --no-cache git openssh bash && ssh-keygen -A && sed -i "s/#AuthorizedKeysFile/AuthorizedKeysFile/g"  /etc/ssh/sshd_config && adduser git -D -G root -h /home/git -s /bin/bash && passwd -d git && su git -c "mkdir /home/git/.ssh && ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f /home/git/.ssh/id_rsa -P '' && mv /home/git/.ssh/ /home/git/.ssh/authorized_keys && mkdir /home/git/test.git && git --bare init /home/git/test.git"
     ---> Running in e9d79ab3b92c
    ....truncated output....
    OK: 34 MiB in 26 packages
    ssh-keygen: generating new host keys: RSA DSA ECDSA ED25519
    Password for git changed by root
    Generating public/private rsa key pair.
    Your identification has been saved in /home/git/.ssh/id_rsa.
    Your public key has been saved in /home/git/.ssh/
    ....truncated output....
    Initialized empty Git repository in /home/git/test.git/
    Successfully built dd8610c24f82
  6. Run a data container that contains a generated SSH key:

    docker run --name data /bin/true
  7. Copy the test pre-receive hook into the data container:

    docker cp data:/home/git/test.git/hooks/pre-receive
  8. Run an application container that runs sshd and executes the hook. Take note of the container id that is returned:

    docker run -d -p 52311:22 --volumes-from data
  9. Copy the generated SSH key from the data container to the local machine:

    docker cp data:/home/git/.ssh/id_rsa .
  10. Modify the remote of a test repository and push to the test.git repo within the Docker container. This example uses but you can use any repo you want. This example assumes your local machine ( is binding port 52311, but you can use a different IP address if docker is running on a remote machine.

    git clone
    cd Hello-World
    git remote add test git@
    GIT_SSH_COMMAND="ssh -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -p 52311 -i ../id_rsa" git push -u test master
    Warning: Permanently added '[]:52311' (ECDSA) to the list of known hosts.
    Counting objects: 7, done.
    Delta compression using up to 4 threads.
    Compressing objects: 100% (3/3), done.
    Writing objects: 100% (7/7), 700 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
    Total 7 (delta 0), reused 7 (delta 0)
    remote: error: rejecting all pushes
    To git@
     ! [remote rejected] master -> master (pre-receive hook declined)
    error: failed to push some refs to 'git@'

    Notice that the push was rejected after executing the pre-receive hook and echoing the output from the script.

Further reading