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Setting up a Msysgit Server with copSSH on Windows


Tim DavisOK – let me start this post by saying this is absolutely NOT for the faint hearted. This was a serious – and I re-emphasize this – serious pain in the arse to the do. Having almost no experience in Linux before – copSSH emulates the Linux environment through cygwin – let me tell you that this process was not easy. If you are an expert and thought – “pfftt, this process was easy” – I will reserve my language and ask you to kindly move along :) For those of you with no clue at all (ala me) – then this post is for you.

Firstly, full credit goes to the fantastic team at msysgit – these guys rock for porting GIT to Windows – GIT is an unreal DVCS and so I cant thank them enough for making this all possible. Secondly, full credit goes out to the guys at StackOverflow – unreal website and lots of fantastic users that have helped answer questions which have allowed the making of this guide possible. Please feel free to ask me questions, but I strongly recommend StackOverflow as your first port-of-call as I may take longer in getting back to you than they will. Also, this instruction guide is how I have set it up – if you start changing things – may the force be with you!

Finally, if this process worked for you – please leave a comment telling me (and everyone else) that it works and share this article around. It took me quite a bit of time to figure all this out on Windows – not to mention the time to type up this guide – so I would appreciate a link back ;)

Update 1: A free solution is called,, which is good but uses Apache and doesn’t use SSH keys – instead only providing password support (which might be fine for some people).

Update 2: You can still use copSSH 3.0.3 as it’s free.


  1. Download copSSH [SourceForge Link]
  2. Download msysgit
  3. Download TortiseGIT
  4. Download PuTTY Installer
  5. *Optional Download Git Install Guide (this guide as a Printable PDF)

Step 1 – Installing copSSH

  1. You’ve got copSSH – now go on and install it.
  2. Install copSSH into the c:\SSH directory
  3. Write down the SvcCOPSSH password – you will probably never need it – but just in case.
  4. It will install and create a bunch of directories – (Aside: I have found that you don’t need to create a password on your Windows User account – it’s not necessary if you use the settings I have later)
  5. Goto Start –> Programs –> copSSH –> Activate a User
  6. You can only activate existing users on Windows – so you can choose Your Own Account or Administrator (or indeed another account but I’ve used the primary)
  7. Uncheck the option – Create keys for public key authentication – we will do this ourselves.
  8. Finish the Installation Process.

Step 2 – Setup copSSH

  1. Open Windows Explorer – go into C:\SSH\etc and open BOTH your ssh_config and sshd_config in WordPad (Aside: Note – one has a “d” and one doesn’t – it’s an important difference)
  2. ssh_config – Delete the # (pound) key next to “Port” and change this to something like 4837 (or whatever Port you want to use)
  3. sshd_config – Delete the # (pound) key next to “Port” and change this the same as that in ssh_config – i.e. in this case 4837
  4. sshd_config – Delete the # (pound) key next to MaxAuthTries and make this 2
  5. sshd_config – Delete the # (pound) key next to RSAAuthentication & also next to the PubkeyAuthentication
  6. sshd_config – Delete the # (pound) key next to PasswordAuthentication and make this no.
  7. Save all the changes to ssh_config and sshd_config.
  8. Open your Router IP Address (or however you access your router) and open the Port you are using – i.e. in this case 4837 (Aside: If you don’t know it – c:\cmd –> ipconfig /all – will tell you)
  9. Save these Port changes in your router (& restart your router if needed)
  10. Open Windows Firewall with Advanced Security Settings and create a rule which allows the Port you set in both ssh_config and sshd_config – in this case 4837 (also do this in your Firewall if your firewall requires it – maybe/maybe not)
  11. Restart Your PC.

Step 3 – Installing PuTTY

  1. Welcome back after the Restart – now Open the PuTTY Installer you downloaded.
  2. Install Everything
  3. Navigate to the Putty Installed Directory (usually c:\Program Files\PuTTY)
  4. Open PuttyGen.exe
  5. Enter in Number of bits in a generated key: 4096
  6. Move your mouse around randomly as instructed until finished – don’t close PuttyGen!
  7. Open Windows Explorer and Navigate to c:\SSH\Home\<user>\.ssh\ – i.e in our case c:\SSH\Home\Administrator\.ssh\ (Aside: If .ssh doesn’t exist – you can only create it via a cmd.exe prompt – open cmd.exe and enter cd C:\SSH\Home\<user>\ then enter mkdir .ssh)
  8. Create a new file called authorized_keys (Aside: if it’s not there – Right Click – New Text Document – Delete everything (including the *.txt) – name the file authorized_keys)
  9. Open PuttyGen and Copy/Paste the Public Key for pasting into OpenSSH authorized_keys files code.
  10. Still in PuttyGen – save the Private Key as private_key.ppk in the same c:\SSH\Home\<user>\.ssh\ – i.e. i.e in our case c:\SSH\Home\Administrator\.ssh\private_key.ppk
  11. You should now have 2 files in this directory – authorized_keys and private_key.ppk
  12. To test our connection – load up putty.exe from the same c:\Program Files\PuTTY
  13. Enter your IP Address and Port in the Session window (Aside: If you don’t know your IP – c:\cmd –> ipconfig /all – will tell you)
  14. Click on SSH in the left hand menu and select – Auth – then navigate to your private key c:\SSH\Home\<user>\.ssh\private_key.ppk
  15. Hit Open and a terminal will open asking you to Enter Login Name: – enter your <user> – i.e. in our case Administrator
  16. You may get a message about Accept Public Key – type yes & if you get logged in great!

Step 4 – Installing msysgit

  1. Open the msysgit installer package.
  2. Ensure its C:\Program Files\Git (x32 bit) or C:\Program Files (x86)\Git (x64 bit)
  3. Set Use Git Bash Only (Aside: I wanted to only Use Git Bash console but if you want to Run Git from the Windows Command Prompt then you have to select this option – I would recommend only options 1 & 2 unless you really know what you are doing)
  4. Select Use (Tortoise)Plink available via C:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin\TortoisePlink.exe. If it’s not available in the installer then set the variable in the windows environment to GIT_SSH=/path/to/TortoisePlink.exe. (Aside: I set this as using just PuTTY Plink.exe as opposed to TortoisePlink.exe – would recommend settings this instead to c:\Program Files\PuTTY\plink.exe but it’s up to you)
  5. Let it install and have a laugh in the meantime.
  6. Once it’s installed – you now have 2 windows which I will name 1. Git Bash (Right Click Mouse on a file/folder in Explorer) and 2. Start –> Programs –> copSSH –> Start a Unix Bash Shell – Unix Bash.
  7. Finally, goto your Git-Core folder in the GIT installed directory – C:\Program Files\Git\libexec\git-core (x32 bit) or C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\libexec\git-core (x64 bit) – and copy the files git.exe, git-receive-pack.exe, git-upload-archive.exe and git-upload-pack.exe and paste these into your C:\SSH\Bin.

Step 5 – Modify the User Environment

  1. The problem with copSSH is that it sets its $HOME environment to the c:\users\<name> or c:\Documents and Settings\<user> variable – and GIT looks for authorized_keys in this folder. Of course, we don’t want this – we setup our Server Environment in the C:\SSH\Home\<user>\.ssh and so we want GIT to look for keys in there.
  2. Open Windows Explorer – go into C:\SSH\Home\<user>\ and open the .bashrc file using a text editor (Aside: Be sure not to attempt to format this file as it has Unix Encodings NOT Dos encodings – i.e. just open it in a text editor and don’t use another viewer unless you want encoding errors – you don’t need to read the text in this file if you are following these instructions to a tee.)
  3. Put the Cursor at the beginning of the .bashrc file and use CTRL+F to find the following text – bashrc file.
    # User dependent .bashrc file
  4. After the text .bashrc file# (after the pound with a space) – paste in – export HOME=/c/SSH/home/<user> – i.e. in our case export HOME=/c/SSH/home/Administrator
  5. Ensure there is a “space” before and after this paste in – i.e. .bashrc file#<space>export HOME=/c/SSH/home/Administrator<space>Shell Options#
  6. Save this file and close it.
  7. Copy this file and navigate to your windows assigned home directory (Aside: GIT will still be looking for your path in this directory so we need to set to refer to our C:\SSH\Home\<user>\ directory instead)
  8. Paste this in your c:\users\<name> or c:\Documents and Settings\<user> – so it now has c:\users\<name>\.bashrc for example.
  9. Open both a  Git Bash (Right Click mouse in Explorer) and a Start –> Programs –> copSSH –> Start a Unix Bash Shell – Unix Bash shell
  10. Type echo $HOME – into both – they should both spit out – /c/SSH/Home/<user>
  11. If one does not – you need to set it via – export HOME=/c/SSH/home/<user>

Step 6 – Install TortiseGIT

  1. Install TortiseGIT per the standard installer using plink.exe (Aside: This should be the same as that setting at Step 4.4)
  2. Once the install has completed, open Windows Explorer.
  3. Right Click on anything and goto TortiseGIT –> Settings
  4. Select General and ensure the MSysGit path is seting to C:\Program Files\Git\bin (x32) or C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin (x64)
  5. Select Network and ensure that this is set to the same plink.exe path that we set in Step 6.1.
  6. Select Save then OK.

Step 7 – Using GIT and Plink

  1. Navigate to c:\SSH\Home\<user> and create a new directory called <myapp>.git – i.e. c:\SSH\Home\Administrator\myapp.git
  2. Right click on this new directory and select Git Bash
  3. When the window loads enter git –bare init
  4. You’ll now see a (BARE: master) appear and can close the window.
  5. Navigate to c:\Program Files\PuTTY and open pageant.exe a small icon will appear in your system tray at the bottom right hand corner of your screen (a PC with a Hat on it) – open this and add your key from c:\SSH\Home\Administrator\.ssh\private_key.ppk (Aside: I recommend adding pageant.exe to your Start –> Startup folder so this will load each time you start your PC. To do this, goto Start –> PuTTY and right click on pageant.exe. Then change the target path to c:\<path-to-dir>\pageant.exe dir:\<path_to_private_key>\private_key.ppk. Then drag pageant.exe to your StartUp folder – this will then load both pageant.exe and your private key each time the system loads. Refer here if confused.)
  6. Now it’s time to clone this repository to our local development environment and finally start using GIT
  7. Navigate to where you want to have your local repository – in my case D:\Git\
  8. Right click inside this Directory and hit Git Clone
  9. Enter your URL as ssh://<user>@<ip_address>:<port number>/SSH/Home/<user>/<git directory> – i.e. in our case ssh://administrator@
  10. The Directory should have the correct path – i.e. in my case D:\Git\myapp
  11. There is no need to Load Putty Key as we have already done this using pageant in Step 7.5.
  12. Hit OK and with a bit of luck (a lot of luck) you will get a successful clone.


Step 8 – The Real Test


  1. Cloning is one thing – the real test is pushing a new commit.
  2. Go to your newly cloned directory –  D:\Git\myapp
  3. Add a New Text Document.txt
  4. Go back to just  D:\Git\ –> Right Click on the Folder –> Git Commit –> “master” …
  5. Enter a new Commit message “Test” & tick the checkbox for Not Versioned commit on the file New Text Document.txt.
  6. Hit OK & then hit Push.
  7. Ensure Local: master to Remote: master (for this test) & Remote: origin
  8. Hit OK and you should get below

Counting objects: 1, done.
Compressing objects: 100% (1/1)
Writing objects: 100% (1/1)
Writing objects: 100% (1/1), 244 bytes, done.
Total 1 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
To ssh://administrator@
0526eba..a1bf4a4  master -> master

If yes (get a beer), if no (see Problem Guide and get ready for tears, profane language and keyboard bashing)

Problem Guide


  1. I don’t understand how to install copSSH – can’t you add some pictures? No, but this guy can.
  2. I want to add another directory instead of installing my GIT repo in the home account ? OK, see here which must be done via Unix Bash.
  3. When I check services.msc – I can see that the service has stopped :( – what can I do ? You can setup a dependent copSSH service if you are brave. (tip: if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t stop the service ever – when you make changes to c:\SSH\etc\ directory restart your PC instead)


  1. Can I create keys with less encryption than 4096 from Step 3.5? You can never have enough encryption so no (well at least it’s my opinion!)
  2. I cant connect via PuTTY? You may have to regenerate your keys via puttygen.exe and put them back into your /.ssh/authorized_keys file per the Step 3 Instructions above.


  1. I keep getting “fatal: the remote end hung up unexpectedly”? Open a Git Bash window and type echo $HOME – ensure it is set to /c/SSH/Home/<user>/. If it is not – enter export HOME=/c/SSH/home/<user>
  2. I get “fatal: connection refused”? Check that you have correctly opened the port you have set on the service per Step 1.
  3. I get “fatal: no authorized methods accepted”? You will have to regenerate your keys with puttygen.exe and follow steps per 3.
  4. I get “git-upload-pack:command not found”? You must ensure that you have completed Step 4.7 and copied the relevant files into your c:\SSH\Bin directory.


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