Usually a special remote stores the content of annexed files, but you need another git remote to store your git repository. But now we have git-remote-annex, which lets most any special remote store a git repository alongside the annexed files. So you can git pull, git push, and even git clone from a special remote.

In order to use git-remote-annex, the special remote needs to have its url configured to something starting with "annex::".

Special remotes are not configured with such an url by default, but it can easily be set by using the --with-url parameter when running git-annex-initremote or git-annex-enableremote.

Let's say you have a special remote named "foo" you want to use with git-remote-annex. This command will configure and also

git-annex enableremote foo --with-url

Or you could configure it manually:

git config annex::
git config '+refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/foo/*'

Now you can git push foo and git pull foo. And commands like git-annex sync will also use foo as a git remote.

You can even git clone from the special remote. To do that, you need an url that tells git-annex all about the special remote's configuration. The easy way to get that url is to run git fetch foo, and look at its output, which might look like this if it's an S3 bucket.

Full remote url: annex::13c2500f-a302-4331-9720-6ec43cb8da2b?type=S3&encryption=none&bucket=foo

does it work just like any other git remote?

Very close, but not completely the same.

If two people make conflicting pushes into a special remote at the same time, one of the pushes will overwrite the other one. In this situation, the overwritten push will appear to have succeeded, but pulling later will show the true situation.

While pushes are mostly done incrementally, and so are fast, sometimes it will do a full re-upload of the contents of your repository, which is slower.

If you git push --delete foo badbranch, the branch will be deleted, but all traces of it will not be immediately removed from the special remote.

See the "REPOSITORY FORMAT" section of git-remote-annex for details.

what special remotes does this work with?

Some types of special remotes already have an url that points at a git repository, so it can't also be set to an annex:: url. For example, git-lfs.

A few other types of special remotes can't be used for other reasons, including web and borg.

Encrypted special remotes can be used as git remotes. But, the git repository contains information that is needed to decrypt the files that are stored on the special remote. This means it's not possible to clone from an encrypted special remote. So you will be prompted to set a git config before using git-remote-annex with an encrypted special remote, to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

You can use this with special remotes that are configured with "exporttree=yes". (The git repository is written under .git/annex/objects/ on the remote to keep it separate from the exported files.) But this won't work with special remotes that are configured with "importrree=yes" but without "exportrree=yes".

httpalso special remotes

If the content of a special remote gets written to some location that is published to http, you can use the httpalso special remote with git-remote-annex to git clone and git pull over http. (It's readonly, so no pushing.)

For example, if your directory special remote named "foo" is published at, set up the httpalso remote like this to access it:

git-annex initremote foohttp --with-url --sameas=foo type=httpalso url=

Be sure to remember to include exporttree=yes if the special remote is configured that way.

Once a httpalso remote is set up like this, git fetch from it to display its full annex:: url. That url can be shared with others to let them clone the repository.

The url will be rather long and ugly. There's a way to make a shorter url that you can tell someone to let them clone your httpalso repository. Just write the url to a file on your website. Then wrap the url to that file in an annex:: url, for example "annex::" Currently this only works for httpalso urls.