Host Your Own GitLab Server

Greetings Dev! Are you tired of relying on external GitLab servers for your projects? Do you wish to have complete control over your code repositories and enhance your team’s collaboration? Then, hosting your own GitLab server is the way to go! In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of setting up and managing your own GitLab server, so you can enjoy the benefits of version control and project management without any limitations or security concerns.

What is GitLab?

GitLab is an open-source platform that allows developers to manage and collaborate on their Git repositories. It provides a comprehensive set of features for version control, issue tracking, code review, continuous integration and deployment, and project management. GitLab is designed to streamline the development process, increase productivity, and simplify the workflow for teams of any size.

Why Host Your Own GitLab Server?

While GitLab offers a free and public version of their service, there are many reasons why you might want to host your own GitLab server. Here are some of the advantages:

Advantages of Hosting Your Own GitLab Server
Full control over your codebase and data
Customizable and scalable according to your needs
Increased security and privacy
No limitations on users, projects, or storage
Seamless integration with your existing tools and services

In short, hosting your own GitLab server gives you more flexibility, autonomy, and security, while also reducing costs and increasing speed.

Setting Up Your GitLab Server


Before you start, make sure your system meets the following requirements:

  • Linux-based operating system (Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, or similar)
  • At least 4GB of RAM and 2 CPU cores
  • 20GB of available storage
  • Static IP address or domain name

Step 1: Installing GitLab

The first step is to install GitLab on your server. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Update your system packages: sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
  2. Install the required dependencies:
    sudo apt install curl openssh-server ca-certificates postfix

    During the installation, you’ll be prompted to configure some settings for Postfix, which is a mail server. Choose “Internet Site” and enter your domain name when asked.

  3. Add the GitLab repository:
    curl | sudo bash

    This will add the official GitLab repository to your system.

  4. Install GitLab:
    sudo apt install gitlab-ee

    GitLab should now be installed on your server. However, we still need to configure it.

Step 2: Configuring GitLab

After the installation, we need to configure GitLab to suit our needs. This involves setting up the necessary domains, SSL certificates, email settings, and other basic configurations. Here’s how:

  1. Open the GitLab configuration file:
    sudo nano /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb

    This file contains all the configuration options for GitLab. You can edit it as per your requirements.

  2. Configure the external URL:
    external_url ''

    Replace “” with your actual domain name or IP address. This will ensure that GitLab runs on the correct domain and port.

  3. Configure the SSL certificate:
    letsencrypt['enable'] = trueletsencrypt['contact_emails'] = ['']nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true

    This will enable Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for your domain and redirect all HTTP requests to HTTPS. Make sure to replace “” with your actual email address.

  4. Configure the email settings:
    gitlab_rails['smtp_enable'] = truegitlab_rails['smtp_address'] = ""gitlab_rails['smtp_port'] = 587gitlab_rails['smtp_user_name'] = ""gitlab_rails['smtp_password'] = "your-password"gitlab_rails['smtp_authentication'] = "login"gitlab_rails['smtp_enable_starttls_auto'] = truegitlab_rails['smtp_tls'] = false

    Replace the values with your own email server and credentials. This will allow GitLab to send email notifications and invites.

  5. Save and exit the file: Press CTRL+O and CTRL+X

Step 3: Reconfiguring and Restarting GitLab

After making the changes to the GitLab configuration file, we need to reconfigure and restart GitLab for the changes to take effect. Here’s how:

  1. Reconfigure GitLab:
    sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure

    This will apply the new configuration and restart all the GitLab services.

  2. Restart GitLab:
    sudo gitlab-ctl restart

    This will ensure that all the services are running properly and GitLab is accessible.

  3. Check GitLab status:
    sudo gitlab-ctl status

    This should show the status of all the GitLab services. Make sure they are all running.

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Using Your GitLab Server

Once GitLab is installed and configured, you can start using it for your projects. Here are some basic features and functions of GitLab:

Creating a Project

To create a new project on GitLab, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your GitLab account
  2. Click on the “New Project” button
  3. Choose a name and description for your project
  4. Select the visibility level (public, internal, or private)
  5. Choose the project features (issues, wiki, snippets, etc.)
  6. Click on the “Create Project” button

Your new project should now be created and accessible to you and your team members.

Cloning a Repository

To clone a Git repository from your GitLab server, follow these steps:

  1. Open the project page on GitLab
  2. Click on the “Clone” button and copy the SSH or HTTPS URL
  3. Open your terminal or command prompt
  4. Navigate to the directory where you want to clone the repository
  5. Enter the following command:
    git clone

    Replace “username” and “project” with your GitLab username and project name, respectively. You can also use the HTTPS URL instead of SSH.

Your Git repository should now be cloned to your local machine.

Pushing and Pulling Changes

To push and pull changes to and from your GitLab repository, follow these steps:

  1. Make changes to your local files
  2. Add the changes to the staging area:
    git add file.txt

    This will add the file.txt to the staging area, ready to be committed.

  3. Commit the changes with a message:
    git commit -m "Added file.txt"

    This will create a new commit with the message “Added file.txt”.

  4. Push the changes to GitLab:
    git push origin master

    This will push the changes to the “master” branch of your GitLab repository.

  5. Pull changes from GitLab:
    git pull origin master

    This will pull the latest changes from the “master” branch of your GitLab repository.

These are some basic Git commands for pushing and pulling changes to and from your GitLab repository. You can also use the GitLab web interface to manage your branches, merge requests, and other features.


Q: Can I use GitLab for free?

A: Yes, GitLab offers a free version of their service, GitLab CE, which is open-source and self-hosted. However, you’ll need to provide your own server and resources to run GitLab CE.

Q: What are the advantages of GitLab over GitHub?

A: GitLab offers many features that are not available on GitHub or require additional tools and services. Some of these features include:

  • Built-in continuous integration and deployment
  • Integrated container registry
  • Powerful issue tracking system
  • Easy project management and collaboration
  • Open-source and self-hosted option

However, GitHub has a larger community and more integrations with external tools and services, so it might be more suitable for certain projects and teams.

Q: Is GitLab secure?

A: Yes, GitLab is designed with security in mind and provides many features and options to enhance the security of your repositories and data. However, like any software, GitLab may have vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers. It’s important to keep your GitLab server up to date with the latest security patches and best practices, and to follow the recommended security guidelines.

Q: How can I backup my GitLab data?

A: GitLab provides many options for backing up and restoring your data, including built-in backup tools, manual backups, and cloud-based backup solutions. You can also use third-party backup tools and scripts to automate the process. Make sure to test your backups regularly and store them in a secure location.

Q: How can I customize my GitLab server?

A: GitLab offers many options for customization and extension, including themes, plugins, and custom scripts. You can also modify the GitLab source code to add new features and functionalities. However, customizations may affect the stability and security of your server, so make sure to test them thoroughly and follow the recommended guidelines.

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Q: How can I migrate my projects from GitHub or other Git services to GitLab?

A: GitLab provides many options for importing your repositories from other Git services, including GitHub, Bitbucket, and You can use the GitLab web interface or command line tools to import your repositories, issues, and other data. However, make sure to test the migration process thoroughly and follow the recommended guidelines to avoid data loss or conflicts.

That’s all for this guide on hosting your own GitLab server. We hope you found this article helpful in setting up and managing your own GitLab server. Happy coding!