Lasse Makholm noticed that running "git check-attr" from a place
totally unrelated to $GIT_DIR and $GIT_WORK_TREE does not give
expected results.  I think it is because the command does not say it
wants to call setup_work_tree().

We still need to support use cases where only a bare repository is
involved, so unconditionally requiring a working tree would not work
well.  Instead, make a call only in a non-bare repository.

We may want to see if we want to do a similar fix in the opposite
direction to check-ignore.  The command unconditionally requires a
working tree, but it should be usable in a bare repository just like
check-attr attempts to be.

Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>
 builtin/check-attr.c  |  3 +++
 t/ | 10 ++++++++++
 2 files changed, 13 insertions(+)

diff --git a/builtin/check-attr.c b/builtin/check-attr.c
index 075d01d..f29d6c3 100644
--- a/builtin/check-attr.c
+++ b/builtin/check-attr.c
@@ -94,6 +94,9 @@ int cmd_check_attr(int argc, const char **argv, const char 
        struct git_attr_check *check;
        int cnt, i, doubledash, filei;
+       if (!is_bare_repository())
+               setup_work_tree();
        git_config(git_default_config, NULL);
        argc = parse_options(argc, argv, prefix, check_attr_options,
diff --git a/t/ b/t/
index 0554b13..6e6aef5 100755
--- a/t/
+++ b/t/
@@ -196,6 +196,16 @@ test_expect_success 'root subdir attribute test' '
        attr_check subdir/a/i unspecified
+test_expect_success 'using --git-dir and --work-tree' '
+       mkdir unreal real &&
+       git init real &&
+       echo "file test=in-real" >real/.gitattributes &&
+       (
+               cd unreal &&
+               attr_check file in-real "--git-dir ../real/.git --work-tree 
+       )
 test_expect_success 'setup bare' '
        git clone --bare . bare.git

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