Git reads multiple configuration files: settings come first from the
system config file (typically /etc/gitconfig), then the xdg config
file (typically ~/.config/git/config), then the user's dotfile
(~/.gitconfig), then the repository configuration (.git/config).

Git has always used access(2) to decide whether to use each file; as
an unfortunate side effect, that means that if one of these files is
unreadable (e.g., EPERM or EIO), git skips it.  So if I use
~/.gitconfig to override some settings but make a mistake and give it
the wrong permissions then I am subject to the settings the sysadmin
chose for /etc/gitconfig.

Better to error out and ask the user to correct the problem.

This only affects the user and xdg config files, since the user
presumably has enough access to fix their permissions.  If the system
config file is unreadable, the best we can do is to warn about it so
the user knows to notify someone and get on with work in the meantime.

Signed-off-by: Jonathan Nieder <>
 config.c          | 4 ++--
 git-compat-util.h | 1 +
 wrapper.c         | 8 ++++++++
 3 files changed, 11 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

diff --git a/config.c b/config.c
index 08e47e2e..e8875b8a 100644
--- a/config.c
+++ b/config.c
@@ -945,12 +945,12 @@ int git_config_early(config_fn_t fn, void *data, const 
char *repo_config)
                found += 1;
-       if (xdg_config && !access_or_warn(xdg_config, R_OK)) {
+       if (xdg_config && !access_or_die(xdg_config, R_OK)) {
                ret += git_config_from_file(fn, xdg_config, data);
                found += 1;
-       if (user_config && !access_or_warn(user_config, R_OK)) {
+       if (user_config && !access_or_die(user_config, R_OK)) {
                ret += git_config_from_file(fn, user_config, data);
                found += 1;
diff --git a/git-compat-util.h b/git-compat-util.h
index f567767f..dfe2e318 100644
--- a/git-compat-util.h
+++ b/git-compat-util.h
@@ -640,6 +640,7 @@ int remove_or_warn(unsigned int mode, const char *path);
 int access_or_warn(const char *path, int mode);
+int access_or_die(const char *path, int mode);
 /* Warn on an inaccessible file that ought to be accessible */
 void warn_on_inaccessible(const char *path);
diff --git a/wrapper.c b/wrapper.c
index c1b919f3..7cbe96a0 100644
--- a/wrapper.c
+++ b/wrapper.c
@@ -416,6 +416,14 @@ int access_or_warn(const char *path, int mode)
        return ret;
+int access_or_die(const char *path, int mode)
+       int ret = access(path, mode);
+       if (ret && errno != ENOENT && errno != ENOTDIR)
+               die_errno(_("unable to access '%s'"), path);
+       return ret;
 struct passwd *xgetpwuid_self(void)
        struct passwd *pw;

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