Fossil: How To Mirror A Fossil Repository On GitHub

Fossil SCM

Beginning with Fossil version 2.9, you can mirror a Fossil-based project on GitHub (with limitations) by following these steps:

  1. Create an account on GitHub if you do not have one already. Log into that account.

  2. Create a new project. GitHub will ask you if you want to prepopulate your project with various things like a README file. Answer "no" to everything. You want a completely blank project. GitHub will then supply you with a URL for your project that will look something like this:

  3. Back on your workstation, move to a checkout for your Fossil project and type:

    $ fossil git export /path/to/git/repo --autopush

    In place of the /path/to... argument above, put in some directory name that is outside of your Fossil checkout. If you keep multiple Fossil checkouts in a directory of their own, consider using ../git-mirror to place the Git export mirror alongside them, for example. Fossil will create this directory if necessary. This directory will become a Git repository that holds a translation of your Fossil repository.

    The --autopush option tells Fossil that you want to push the Git translation up to GitHub every time it is updated.

    The URL parameter is the same as the one GitHub gave you, but with your GitHub username and password added.

    If your GitHub account uses two-factor authentication (2FA), you will have to generate a personal access token and use that in place of your actual password in the URL. This token should have “repo” scope enabled, only.

    You can also run the command above outside of any open checkout of your project by supplying the “-R repository” option.

  4. Get some coffee. Depending on the size of your project, the initial "fossil git export" command in the previous step might run for several minutes.

  5. And you are done! Assuming everything worked, your project is now mirrored on GitHub.

  6. Whenever you update your project, simply run this command to update the mirror:

    $ fossil git export

    Unlike with the first time you ran that command, you don’t need the remaining arguments, because Fossil remembers those things. Subsequent mirror updates should usually happen in a fraction of a second.

  7. To see the status of your mirror, run:

    $ fossil git status


  • Unless you specify --force, the mirroring only happens if the Fossil repo has changed, with Fossil reporting "no changes", because Fossil does not care about the success or failure of the mirror run. If a mirror run failed (for example, due to an incorrect password, or a transient error at, Fossil will not retry until there has been a repo change or --force is supplied.

  • The mirroring is one-way. If you check in changes on GitHub, those changes will not be reabsorbed by Fossil. There are technical problems that make a two-way mirror all but impossible. (This is not to be confused with the ability to import a Fossil mirror from Github back into a Fossil repository. That works, but it is not a mirror.)

    This also means that you cannot accept pull requests on GitHub.

  • The "fossil git export" command creates subprocesses that run "git" commands, so you must have Git installed on your machine for any of this to work.

  • The Git repository will have an extra unmanaged top-level directory named ".mirror_state" that contains one or more files. Those files are used to store the intermediate state of the translation so that subsequent invocations of "fossil git export" will know where you left off the last time and what new content needs to be moved over into Git. Be careful not to mess with the .mirror_state directory or any of its contents. Do not put those files under Git management. Do not edit or delete them.

  • The name of the "trunk" branch is automatically translated into "master" in the Git mirror unless you give the --mainbranch option, added in Fossil 2.14.

  • Only check-ins and simple tags are translated to Git. Git does not support wiki or tickets or unversioned content or any of the other features of Fossil that make it so convenient to use, so those other elements cannot be mirrored in Git.

  • In Git, all tags must be unique. If your Fossil repository has the same tag on two or more check-ins, the tag will only be preserved on the chronologically newest check-in.

  • There is a long list of restrictions on tag and branch names in Git. If any of your Fossil tag or branch names violate these rules, then the names are translated prior to being exported to Git. The translation usually involves converting the offending characters into underscores.

  • If your Fossil user contact info is not set and this repository was not initially imported from Git, fossil git export will construct a generic for the Git committer and author email fields of each commit. However, Fossil will first attempt to parse an email address from your user contact info, which can be set through a Fossil UI browser window or with the user contact subcommand on the command line. Alternatively, if this repository was previously imported from Git using the --attribute option, the fx_git table will be queried for correspondent email addresses. Only if neither of these methods produce a user specified email will the abovementioned generic address be used.

Example GitHub Mirrors

As of this writing (2019-03-16) Fossil’s own repository is mirrored on GitHub at:

In addition, an official Git mirror of SQLite is available:

The Fossil source repositories for these mirrors are at and, respectively. Both repositories are hosted on the same VM at Linode. On that machine, there is a cron job that runs at 17 minutes after the hour, every hour that does:

/usr/bin/fossil sync -u -R /home/www/fossil/fossil.fossil
/usr/bin/fossil sync -R /home/www/fossil/sqlite.fossil
/usr/bin/fossil git export -R /home/www/fossil/fossil.fossil
/usr/bin/fossil git export -R /home/www/fossil/sqlite.fossil

The initial two "sync" commands pull in changes from the primary Fossil repositories for Fossil and SQLite. The last two lines export the changes to Git and push the results up to GitHub.