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Elsa Gonsiorowski
Elsa Gonsiorowski

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Verify git sign-off with TravisCI

I don’t know how to explain my role as a contributor to the mpiFileUtils project. I joined because these tools are so incredibly useful and just plain cool! I also wanted to represent HPC users and contribute documentation to get more people using them. While I haven’t touched the “core” code, I have converted the build system to CMake, created distinct user and developer documentation, and begun acting as scrum master for the team’s development process.

One thing I noticed recently is that our documented contributing requirements did not match what we were doing in practice. Namely, our team had agreed to use ‘signed-off’ commits as part of our project (inspired by OpenMPI). But, since we hadn’t automated the check for it, the sign-off wasn’t always happening.

So, today I set about remedying the situation.

Verifying a git sign-off

We use a less strict form of git signatures, simply a “Signed-off-by” line in the commit message (rather than a full-blown gpg key signature). This can/should be automatically added to a commit message with the git commit -s flag. The check to see if the latest commit has the sign-off is simple:

git show --summary HEAD | grep -q "Signed-off-by:"

Integration with TravisCI

We already run some automated tests with TravisCI. Travis offers a before_script step which triggers before the build of our project. This is the perfect place for the git-show + grep one liner! Everything seemed to work… until I actually created the pull request for this change. Strange.

Turns out, TravisCI not only checks that a branch passes the tests, but it also checks that a branch merged with master passes the tests. Travis was doing a merge, thus changing the HEAD, before running the verify line. So, the verify should only trigger for testing the branch. Luckily, Travis provides an environment variable set to if the tests are running on a PR or not.

Thus, the one-liner becomes:

'if ["$TRAVIS_PULL_REQUEST" = "false"]; then git show --summary HEAD | grep -q "Signed-off-by:"; fi'

With this small change it is now easy and automatic for our team to hold ourselves to the standards we’ve set.


The mpifileutils team has agreed that we won’t enforce a sign-off on every commit, just the final commit of a pull request. Therefore, this check only looks at HEAD, the last commit that was made.

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