Gitea allows you to self-host your git repositories similar to bare repositories, but comes with additional features that you might know from GitHub, such as issues, pull requests or multiple users. Its advantage over GitLab—another Free Software GitHub clone—is that it is much more lightweight and easier to setup.

Head over to to see what it looks like in practice.

Although Gitea is lighter than Gitlab, if you have a VPS with only 512MB of RAM, you will probably have to upgrade. Gitea is more memory-intensive than having just a bare git repository. If you just want a minimalist browseable git server without issue tracking and pull requests, install cgit instead.

Installing Gitea

First install a few dependencies:

apt install curl sqlite3

Unfortunately, Gitea itself is not in the official Debian repos, so we will add a third-party repository for it.

Add the repo's gpg key to apt's trusted keys:

curl -sL -o /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/morph027-gitea.asc

Then add the actual repository to apt:

echo "deb [arch=$(dpkg --print-architecture)] gitea main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/morph027-gitea.list

Now we can install Gitea:

apt update
apt install gitea

Since apt automatically enables and starts the Gitea service, it should already be running on port 3000 on your server!

Setting up a Nginx reverse proxy

You should know how to generate SSL certificates and use Nginx by now. Add this to your Nginx config to proxy requests made to your git subdomain to Gitea running on port 3000:

server {
	listen 443 ssl;
	listen [::]:443 ssl;
	ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/nginx/;
	ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/nginx/;
	location / {
		proxy_pass http://localhost:3000/; # The / is important!
		proxy_redirect off;
		proxy_set_header Host $host;
		proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
		proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
		proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;

And reload Nginx:

systemctl reload nginx

Setting up Gitea

If everything worked fine you should now see a setup screen when you go to your configured domain in the browser. The options should be pretty self-explanatory, it is only important to select SQLite3 and to replace the base url and SSH server domain with your own.

Database Type:
SSH Server Domain:
Gitea Base URL:

These and other settings can be changed in a configuration file later so don't worry about making wrong decisions right now.

After clicking the install button you should now be able to log into your Gitea instance with the account you just created! Explore the settings for more things to do, such as setting up your SSH keys.

If Gitea does not load fully and has random errors, it is possible that you need to increase your available memory on your VPS. This can usually be done on your VPS-provider's website without too much trouble.

A few extras

Automatically create a new repo on push

This is an incredibly useful feature for me. Open up /etc/gitea/app.ini and add DEFAULT_PUSH_CREATE_PRIVATE = true to the repository section like so:

ROOT = /var/lib/gitea/data/gitea-repositories

If you now add a remote to a repository like this

git remote add origin 'ssh://'

and push, Gitea will automatically create a private coolproject repository in your account!

Change tab-width

By default Gitea displays tabs 8 spaces wide, however I prefer 4 spaces. We can change this!

mkdir -p /var/lib/gitea/custom/templates/custom/

And write this into /var/lib/gitea/custom/templates/custom/header.tmpl:

.tab-size-8 {
tab-size: 4 !important;
-moz-tab-size: 4 !important;