Run server-side git hook when there are no updates

I make heavy use of of hooks in git, especially post-receive, to do different kind of things (deploying the blog, running some scripts, updating some checked out repos).

From time to time when I create new hooks they fail due to some weird reasons. It's hard to investigate because of the slightly different shell environment the hooks use. But once pushed post-receive hooks won't run again, so just changing the hook won't help.

There is an easy solution: pre-receive. I came across this on Stack Overflow but I keep forgetting it, so here it is.

Add a pre-receive file in the hooks directory, make it executable and for testing let it exit with a non-zero status:

echo "exit 1" > repo.git/hooks/pre-receive

chmod +x repo.git/hooks/pre-receive

Now to execute that hook:

git push origin master HEAD:non-existing-branch

If the pre-receive hook exits with success (exit 0) the non-existing-branch will be created, just keep that in mind. Now you're free to throw whatever debug code you need into that pre-receive file and see the output locally.