shell: disallow repo names beginning with dash

When a remote server uses git-shell, the client side will
connect to it like:

  ssh server "git-upload-pack 'foo.git'"

and we literally exec ("git-upload-pack", "foo.git"). In
early versions of upload-pack and receive-pack, we took a
repository argument and nothing else. But over time they
learned to accept dashed options. If the user passes a
repository name that starts with a dash, the results are
confusing at best (we complain of a bogus option instead of
a non-existent repository) and malicious at worst (the user
can start an interactive pager via "--help").

We could pass "--" to the sub-process to make sure the
user's argument is interpreted as a branch name. I.e.:

  git-upload-pack -- -foo.git

But adding "--" automatically would make us inconsistent
with a normal shell (i.e., when git-shell is not in use),
where "-foo.git" would still be an error. For that case, the
client would have to specify the "--", but they can't do so
reliably, as existing versions of git-shell do not allow
more than a single argument.

The simplest thing is to simply disallow "-" at the start of
the repo name argument. This hasn't worked either with or
without git-shell since version 1.0.0, and nobody has

Note that this patch just applies to do_generic_cmd(), which
runs upload-pack, receive-pack, and upload-archive. There
are two other types of commands that git-shell runs:

  - do_cvs_cmd(), but this already restricts the argument to
    be the literal string "server"

  - admin-provided commands in the git-shell-commands
    directory. We'll pass along arbitrary arguments there,
    so these commands could have similar problems. But these
    commands might actually understand dashed arguments, so
    we cannot just block them here. It's up to the writer of
    the commands to make sure they are safe. With great
    power comes great responsibility.

Reported-by: Timo Schmid <>
Signed-off-by: Jeff King <>
Signed-off-by: Junio C Hamano <>
diff --git a/shell.c b/shell.c
index ace62e4..c3bf8ec 100644
--- a/shell.c
+++ b/shell.c
@@ -13,7 +13,7 @@
 	const char *my_argv[4];
-	if (!arg || !(arg = sq_dequote(arg)))
+	if (!arg || !(arg = sq_dequote(arg)) || *arg == '-')
 		die("bad argument");
 	if (!starts_with(me, "git-"))
 		die("bad command");