This version of GitHub Enterprise will be discontinued on This version of GitHub Enterprise was discontinued on 2020-05-23. No patch releases will be made, even for critical security issues. For better performance, improved security, and new features, upgrade to the latest version of GitHub Enterprise. For help with the upgrade, contact GitHub Enterprise support.

Article version: Enterprise Server 2.17

System overview

GitHub Enterprise Server is your organization's private copy of GitHub contained within a virtual appliance, hosted on premises or in the cloud, that you configure and control.

In this article

Storage architecture

GitHub Enterprise Server requires two storage volumes, one mounted to the root filesystem path (/) and the other to the user filesystem path (/data/user). This architecture simplifies the upgrade, rollback, and recovery procedures by separating the running software environment from persistent application data.

The root filesystem is included in the distributed machine image. It contains the base operating system and the GitHub Enterprise Server application environment. The root filesystem should be treated as ephemeral. Any data on the root filesystem will be replaced when upgrading to future GitHub Enterprise Server releases.

The root filesystem contains:

  • Custom certificate authority (CA) certificates (in /usr/local/share/ca-certificates)
  • Custom networking configurations
  • Custom firewall configurations
  • The replication state

The user filesystem contains user configuration and data, such as:

  • Git repositories
  • Databases
  • Search indexes
  • Content published on GitHub Pages sites
  • Large files from Git Large File Storage
  • Pre-receive hook environments

Deployment options

You can deploy GitHub Enterprise Server as a single virtual appliance, or in a high availability configuration. For more information, see "Configuring GitHub Enterprise Server for High Availability."

Some organizations with tens of thousands of developers may also benefit from GitHub Enterprise Server Clustering. For more information, see "About clustering."

Data retention and datacenter redundancy

Before using GitHub Enterprise Server in a production environment, we strongly recommend you set up backups and a disaster recovery plan. For more information, see "Configuring backups on your appliance."

GitHub Enterprise Server includes support for online and incremental backups with the GitHub Enterprise Server Backup Utilities. You can take incremental snapshots over a secure network link (the SSH administrative port) over long distances for off-site or geographically dispersed storage. You can restore snapshots over the network into a newly provisioned appliance at time of recovery in case of disaster at the primary datacenter.

In addition to network backups, both AWS (EBS) and VMware disk snapshots of the user storage volumes are supported while the appliance is offline or in maintenance mode. Regular volume snapshots can be used as a low-cost, low-complexity alternative to network backups with GitHub Enterprise Server Backup Utilities if your service level requirements allow for regular offline maintenance.

For more information, see "Configuring backups on your appliance."


GitHub Enterprise Server is a virtual appliance that runs on your infrastructure and is governed by your existing information security controls, such as firewalls, IAM, monitoring, and VPNs. Using GitHub Enterprise Server can help you avoid regulatory compliance issues that arise from cloud-based solutions.

GitHub Enterprise Server also includes additional security features.

Operating system, software, and patches

GitHub Enterprise Server runs a customized Linux operating system with only the necessary applications and services. GitHub manages patching of the appliance's core operating system as part of its standard product release cycle. Patches address functionality, stability, and non-critical security issues for GitHub applications. GitHub also provides critical security patches as needed outside of the regular release cycle.

Network security

GitHub Enterprise Server's internal firewall restricts network access to the appliance's services. Only services necessary for the appliance to function are available over the network. For more information, see "Network ports."

Application security

GitHub's application security team focuses full-time on vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, and code review for GitHub products, including GitHub Enterprise Server. GitHub also contracts with outside security firms to provide point-in-time security assessments of GitHub products.

External services and support access

GitHub Enterprise Server can operate without any egress access from your network to outside services. You can optionally enable integration with external services for email delivery, external monitoring, and log forwarding. For more information, see "Configuring email for notifications," "Setting up external monitoring," and "Log forwarding."

You can manually collect and send troubleshooting data to GitHub Support. For more information, see "Providing data to GitHub Support."

Encrypted communication

GitHub designs GitHub Enterprise Server to run behind your corporate firewall. To secure communication over the wire, we encourage you to enable Transport Layer Security (TLS). GitHub Enterprise Server supports 2048-bit and higher commercial TLS certificates for HTTPS traffic. For more information, see "Configuring TLS."

By default, the appliance also offers Secure Shell (SSH) access for both repository access using Git and administrative purposes. For more information, see "About SSH" and "Accessing the administrative shell (SSH)."

Users and access permissions

GitHub Enterprise Server provides three types of accounts.

  • The admin Linux user account has controlled access to the underlying operating system, including direct filesystem and database access. A small set of trusted administrators should have access to this account, which they can access over SSH. For more information, see "Accessing the administrative shell (SSH)."
  • User accounts in the appliance's web application have full access to their own data and any data that other users or organizations explicitly grant.
  • Site administrators in the appliance's web application are user accounts that can manage high-level web application and appliance settings, user and organization account settings, and repository data.

For more information about GitHub Enterprise Server's user permissions, see "Access permissions on GitHub."


GitHub Enterprise Server provides four authentication methods.

Audit and access logging

GitHub Enterprise Server stores both traditional operating system and application logs. The application also writes detailed auditing and security logs, which GitHub Enterprise Server stores permanently. You can forward both types of logs in realtime to multiple destinations via the syslog-ng protocol. For more information, see "Log forwarding."

Access and audit logs include information like the following.

Access logs
  • Full web server logs for both browser and API access
  • Full logs for access to repository data over Git, HTTPS, and SSH protocols
  • Administrative access logs over HTTPS and SSH
Audit logs
  • User logins, password resets, 2FA requests, email setting changes, and changes to authorized applications and APIs
  • Site administrator actions, such as unlocking user accounts and repositories
  • Repository push events, access grants, transfers, and renames
  • Organization membership changes, including team creation and destruction

Open source dependencies for GitHub Enterprise Server

You can see a complete list of dependencies in your appliance's version of GitHub Enterprise Server, as well as each project's license, at http(s)://HOSTNAME/site/credits.

Tarballs with a full list of dependencies and associated metadata are available on your appliance:

  • For dependencies common to all platforms, at /usr/local/share/enterprise/dependencies-<GHE version>-base.tar.gz
  • For dependencies specific to a platform, at /usr/local/share/enterprise/dependencies-<GHE version>-<platform>.tar.gz

Tarballs are also available, with a full list of dependencies and metadata, at<version>/download.html.

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