Using Git to Get Code

Using Git to retrieve a current baseline of the code

Aside from it's popularity as an open source version control system (VCS), Git is also really useful as a way to get current baselines of software. Let's work through a typical example of how this works.

In this example, the systems admin clones a git repository from the awesome GitHub repository which hosts many excellent open source projects. I recently created a GitHub project for CM Best Practices and will be using it to promote tools and procedures for Configuration Audits. But for now, we will use Github to pull down a copy of libpcap, which is used by many projects for low level network monitoring. Next we will configure, build and then install libpcap. This is a common task for a systems administrator.

GNU Make for Building and Installing Linux Packages

I am sometimes surprised to hear that some build engineers are only familiar with Ant and Maven and somehow managed never learned how to use the Make. If you are a build engineer then you really should be familiar with Ant, Maven, Make and also MS Build for Microsoft Windows applications. There are others, but these are the most build tools that you will come across.

1. The first step is to clone the repository, pulling a local copy to your workspace.

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 gitwork]$ git clone git://
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/testuser/gitwork/libpcap/.git/
remote: Counting objects: 9383, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (2336/2336), done.
remote: Total 9383 (delta 6951), reused 9364 (delta 6933)
Receiving objects: 100% (9383/9383), 2.63 MiB | 1711 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (6951/6951), done.

2. Next take a look at the files that you have downloaded and most importantly take note of the configure script.
(I will be writing an article in the future on Autoconf and other configure utilities.) The configure script sets the default values necessary in order to build the application. There are also some cool option such as setting the prefix that I will show briefly later in this article. But usually, I just take the defaults and run the configure script as shown in step 3. (Note also that I abbreviated some of the output as indicated below.)

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 gitwork]$ ls -lt
total 12
drwxr-xr-x 14 testuser testuser 12288 Apr  8 19:40 libpcap
[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 gitwork]$ cd libpcap
[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 libpcap]$ ls -lt
total 2252
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser  26446 Apr  8 19:40 CHANGES
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   9541 Apr  8 19:40 CREDITS
drwxrwxr-x 2 testuser testuser   4096 Apr  8 19:40 ChmodBPF
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser  17769 Apr  8 19:40 INSTALL.txt
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser    873 Apr  8 19:40 LICENSE
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser  23318 Apr  8 19:40
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   4191 Apr  8 19:40 README
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   2214 Apr  8 19:40 README.Win32
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   2810 Apr  8 19:40 README.aix
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   4960 Apr  8 19:40 README.dag
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   8264 Apr  8 19:40 README.hpux
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   5000 Apr  8 19:40 README.linux
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   3521 Apr  8 19:40 README.macosx
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   2045 Apr  8 19:40 README.septel
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   2465 Apr  8 19:40 README.sita
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   1687 Apr  8 19:40 README.tru64
drwxrwxr-x 2 testuser testuser   4096 Apr  8 19:40 SUNOS4
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser   1555 Apr  8 19:40 TODO
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser     14 Apr  8 19:40 VERSION
drwxrwxr-x 5 testuser testuser   4096 Apr  8 19:40 Win32
-rw-rw-r-- 1 testuser testuser  30161 Apr  8 19:40 aclocal.m4


3. Run the configure script before you try to build the application

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 libpcap]$ ./configure
checking build system type... i686-pc-linux-gnu
checking host system type... i686-pc-linux-gnu
checking target system type... i686-pc-linux-gnu
checking for gcc... gcc
checking whether the C compiler works... yes
checking for C compiler default output file name... a.out
checking for suffix of executables...
checking whether we are cross compiling... no
checking for suffix of object files... o
checking whether we are using the GNU C compiler... yes
checking whether gcc accepts -g... yes
checking for gcc option to accept ISO C89... none needed


4. Next we will build (compile and link) the application using the make command

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 libpcap]$ make
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./pcap-linux.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./pcap-usb-linux.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./fad-getad.c
if grep GIT ./VERSION >/dev/null; then \
read ver <./VERSION; \
echo $ver | tr -d '\012'; \
date +_%Y_%m_%d; \
else \
cat ./VERSION; \
fi | sed -e 's/.*/static const char pcap_version_string[] = "libpcap version &";/' > version.h
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./pcap.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./inet.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./gencode.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./optimize.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./nametoaddr.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./etherent.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./savefile.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./sf-pcap.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./sf-pcap-ng.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./pcap-common.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./bpf_image.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c ./bpf_dump.c
./ flex -Ppcap_ -oscanner.c scanner.l
bison -y -p pcap_ -d grammar.y
mv grammar.c
mv tokdefs.h
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c scanner.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -Dyylval=pcap_lval -c

rm -f bpf_filter.c
ln -s ./bpf/net/bpf_filter.c bpf_filter.c
gcc -O2 -fpic -I.  -DHAVE_CONFIG_H  -D_U_="__attribute__((unused))" -g -O2 -c bpf_filter.c


5. Next you will su to root (or use sudo) and then issue the  make install command to copy the build to the runtime location (e.g. /usr/local/lib)

make install

6. You may want to examine the options available in the configure script. For example, you can set default locations for installation using the --prefix option

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 libpcap]$ ./configure --help
`configure' configures this package to adapt to many kinds of systems.

Usage: ./configure [OPTION]... [VAR=VALUE]...

To assign environment variables (e.g., CC, CFLAGS...), specify them as
VAR=VALUE.  See below for descriptions of some of the useful variables.


7. Even though you downloaded this code to simply compile and install, you may want to make some customizations and then tagging and branching can help you keep track of your work.

Let's first see what tags we inherited when we cloned the repository

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 libpcap]$ git tag

Next we will add our own tag for tragging purposes (which will only exist in out local copy)

[testuser@ip-123-123-123-123 libpcap]$ git tag -a v1.0 -m'CMBP Version 1.0'


Version Control Systems are a must-have for controlling changes to source code during the software and systems development effort. In this article we looked at how a systems administrator might use Git to obtain a copy of libpcap and also control local baselines to track any required changes. In future articles, we will cover more details on how to manage branches and baselines using Git. Please drop me a line and let me know what features and challenges you would like us to cover in upcoming issues of the CM Best Practices Newsletter!

Bob Aiello
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it