Complete Guide To Setting Up GitLab Locally On Linux PC..!!

In the last article, we saw the various parts of GitLab, its architecture and how GitLab works. If you haven’t already, I suggest reading the previous article first before reading this one. Here is the link

GitLab, A Complete Beginner’s Guide!

In this article lets look at how to set it up locally on your Linux PC, so that you can have your very own GitLab setup running right at your home or organization!

If you are using Mac or Windows, you can follow the links below.

Complete Guide To Setting Up GitLab Locally On Mac.

Complete Guide To Setting Up GitLab Locally On Windows PC..!!

So let’s begin!

Things you will need

All you need are a computer running Linux with enough resources (CPU, memory, and disk space) for running the GitLab Server and GitLab Runner. How much resources is enough depends on how much performance you need, the more you have the better it is!

You can also set it up on the cloud over at, but

  • the free plans have some limitations in terms of processing power and hard disk space.
  • Also doing it locally gives you more control over the setup and
  • it will also be an opportunity to learn you more about GitLab

Hence I suggest taking this route of a local installation.

If you are part of a larger organization, and you wish to install it on the cloud, then you can always take a look at the paid plans of GitLab here link

Approach to install GitLab on Linux

Okay, let’s get back to the task in hand.

As we saw in the previous article GitLab consists of 2 parts.

  1. GitLab Server and
  2. GitLab Runner

Also, we have learned in the previous article that it is preferable to set the GitLab server and runners on separate computers. But I am going for a home set up, so I will be setting them both upon the same Linux computer.

GitLab is heavily based on Linux technologies, so we will not run into any problems and the entire process should go smoothly!

By following the step by step guide shown below you should be able to set everything up and running in an hour or 2 (depending upon how good your internet connection is, it can take longer!)

GitLab Installation Process

I will be using Ubuntu distro for this tutorial since its the most popular distro among beginners.

STEP#1: Get the IP address of your Linux Machine

So start up your Linux machine and open the terminal and type in the following command


and note down your IP address (inet addr in line 2 of the output as shown in the screenshot below)

STEP#2: Download and install GitLab server

To download GitLab server, go to the official link on the Gitlab’s Website

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-197-1024x537.png

As you can see GitLab official supports several Linux distros, even a Raspberry Pi 2’s Raspbian! We are interested in Ubuntu, so click on the Omnibus Ubuntu Link on as shown in the screenshot above.

Once you click on Ubuntu,  the commands you need to enter to install GitLab server will be shown to you.

I am not showing each instruction here since GitLab updates the information presented on their website all the time and that can make this section of the article outdated. Just follow the step by step instructions given in the link to install the GitLab Server on your Ubuntu machine.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-196-1024x667.png

Just type in the commands shown there on you Ubuntu server’s terminal one by one to get GitLab Server installed.

A couple of tips on the GitLab installation instructions


In the postfix installation step (step 1 last command on the GitLab website)

sudo apt-get install -y postfix

 you can skip the mail option by choosing the “no configuration” option as shown in the screenshot below.


In the last command of step 2 at GitLab website

sudo EXTERNAL_URL="" apt-get install gitlab-ee

Make sure you replace the URL with the IP address of your ubuntu machine that we have made a note of in Step 1 above like this

sudo EXTERNAL_URL="" apt-get install gitlab-ee

Or to be more precise just place the VM’s IP address that we obtained in Step#4 in its appropriate place

sudo EXTERNAL_URL=”<Your VM’s IP address>” apt-get install gitlab-ee

This step will take a while, so be patient. In my machine it took 8 minutes 23 seconds as shown in the screenshot below, yours can vary depending on the processing power it has.

Once done it will show u something like in the screenshot below.

Once it’s done, you can go ahead to your favorite browser and type in the IP address of your Ubuntu and check if the installation has succeeded.

And voila! GitLab server installation has succeeded!

Go ahead and follow the onscreen instructions to set up your password, accounts and everything else!

STEP#3: Download and Install GitLab runners

At the time of writing this article, the installation commands needed are as follows.

curl -L | sudo bash
sudo apt-get install gitlab-runner

For up to date instructions please refer to the official link here

STEP#4: Connect the GitLab server to the GitLab runner

GitLab calls this process of connecting the Server to Runner as “Registering the GitLab Runner to the Server”

You can follow the instructions for Linux in this link to do the same.

Scroll down to the Linux section and you will see something similar to this

Step# 4.1: Start the registration process

Enter the following command to start the registration process

sudo gitlab-runner register

As shown in the screenshots above, enter your Linux Machine’s  IP address when prompted. Make sure you add “http://” before the IP address.

Once the IP address is entered, the next prompt appears asking you to enter a token, so let’s first go get a token from our GitLab server.

Step#4.2: Obtain token from GitLab Server

Go to your browser and enter the GitLab Server’s IP address. Once you have logged in you can create your first project by clicking on the respective pane as shown in the screenshot below.

O GitLab 
Projects v 
Groups v 
More v 
Create a project 
Welcome to GitLab 
Faster releases. Better code. Less pain. 
Projects are where you store your code, access issues, 
wiki and other features of GitLab. 
Click here 
Explore public projects 
Search or jump to... 
Create a group 
Groups are the best way to mar 
Learn more about GitLal

Just give the project a name and click on the create project button. The other field should get populated automatically.

Blank project 
Pro•ect name 
Test Project 
Project URL 
Create from template 
Project slug 
want to house several dependent projects under the same namespace? Create a group. 
Project description (optional) 
Description format 
Visibility Level O 
o Private 
Project access must be granted explicitly to each user. 
The project can be accessed by any logged in user.

Once you click the button as shown in the screenshot above, you will be taken to your project page.

From there just click on Settings->CI/CD and scroll down a bit and click the “Expand” button next to “Runners” and you will find the token you need as shown in the screenshot below.

T Test Project 
Project overview 
O) Issues 
I h Merge Requests 
•e CI/CD 
X Snippets 
Specific Runners 
Set up a specific Runner automatically 
you can easily install a Runner on a Kubernetes cluster. 
Learn more about Kubernetes 
1. Click the button below to begin the install process 
by navigating to the Kubernetes page 
Select an existing Kubernetes cluster or create a 
new one 
From the Kubernetes cluster details view, install 
Runner from the applications list 
Install Runner on Kubemetes 
Set up a specific Runner manually 
I. Install GitLab Runner 
2. specify the following URL during the Runner setup: 
http: // tö 
Shared Runne 
GitLab Shared Runni 
on the same Runner 
Autoscale with MaxE 
Disable shared Rur 
This GitLab instance dc 
Instance administrators 
admin area. 
Group Runner 
GitLab Group Runne 
projects in this groug 
Runners API.

This token basically connects your project on the GitLab Server to the GitLab runner.

Step#4.3: Enter the token

Now that we have the token let’s enter it on the prompt

Once entering the token, you will be prompted to give the runner a description, go ahead and do that.

After that, you will be asked to enter some tags.

What are tags? Why are they needed for GitLab runners?

The better term for tags can be capabilities.

Consider this scenario.

Assume you are working in a large team of 1000 developers, who are doing say 50 different projects and your GitLab system has 100 different runners set up with several capabilities to do specific tasks. Some projects may need C compilers, while others may need python interpreters.

Now in order to connect a given project with a free-runner, we need some sort of parameter to tell the GitLab server that this particular free runner is capable of running the scripts needed for that particular job.

This is where tags come into the picture. By giving tags like “C” or “Python” a single runner can be connected to multiple projects and a single project can execute its jobs on several runners to ensure the best possible performance.

Using these tags the Gitlab server can find a runner with the specific capability to use for a given job. So give some suitable tags that will imply the capabilities of your runner.

Once that is done, you will be prompted to enter “executor”.

Executors are programs that run our CI/CD scripts. Type shell and press enter

you can test if gitlab-runner is running using the following command

sudo service gitlab-runner status

Test to see if everything works

By following the 4 steps above, you should have a set up with GitLab Server and Runner running on your system. Its time to test and see if everything works the way it is supposed to work!

First, let’s test the GitLab server by creating a repo and pushing it to the server.

Testing GitLab Server

STEP#1: Make a test git repo

Let’s make a simple git repo on a new folder on our Desktop and push it to the GitLab server.

So go over to your terminal and type in the following commands

cd Desktop
mkdir test_project
cd test_project
touch test.c

The above lines of command are just the fancy way of creating a folder named test_project on your Desktop and a file named test.c inside it. You can also do it through the Graphical User Interface if you want to.

So next, please open the C file using your favorite text editor and type in a simple program for testing, something like the following.

#include <stdio.h>

int main()
	printf("Hello Embedded Inventors!");
	return 0;

Next, let’s initialize a git repository on our test_project folder. So go back to the terminal  cd into the test_project folder and type in the following command

git init

You should receive a reply saying “Initialized empty Git repository”

Then add our test.c file and commit the changes using the following commands

git add .
git commit -m"first commit"

STEP#2: Push it to the server

Now that we have our git repo ready, let’s push it to our git server. To do that login to your GitLab and go to the project we created earlier. There GitLab shows us the commands needed to push our repo to the server.

First, let’s configure our name and email on the git repository to the ones set on the GitLab server

So enter the following command.

git config --global "<enter your name here>"
git config --global "<enter your email here>"

Next, we need to connect our server and our repository. To do that just enter the following commands

git remote add origin <your project URL>.git

In my case it is

git remote add origin 

To find your project URL, just copy the address bar of your browser while you are on your project’s page in GitLab

Then push your git repo onto the GitLab using the command

git push -u origin master

Once done, just refresh the page and you should be able to see your test project page in GitLab!

Test Project a 
Project ID: I 
1 Commit p 1 Branch O O Tags 
133 KB Files 
test-project / 
Q Fil 
first commit 
authored 24 minutes ago 
Auto Devops enabled : @ Add README 
@ Add Kubernetes cluster 

Testing GitLab Runner

STEP#3: Make a simple bash script to build the test.c file

Create a bash script on your project folder

cd Desktop/test_project

Edit it so that it looks something like this

gcc test.c -o test
echo "Build completed"

STEP#4: Create and edit .gitlab_ci.yml to run the above script

What is .gitlab-ci.yml and why it is needed? This is the file that contains the instructions for the GitLab runners to execute the CI/CD tasks. It should be present in the project’s root folder. It can be used to test if a commit builds correctly, passes some unit tests and if it needs packaging and deployment.

You can learn more about how to configure it from the official quick start tutorial here

For the purpose of testing our installation let’s create a file named .gitlab-ci.yml in the test_project folder and put the following lines in there.

Make sure you are in the right directory

cd Desktop/test_project

Create the file using the command

touch .gitalb-ci.yml

Open it with your favorite text editor and type the following lines into it.

    - bash
  tags: [test]

The last line tells the GitLab server to use the GitLab runner with the tag named “test”. If you gave your GitLab runner installation a different tag, make sure you make the appropriate change to the above lines.

Also, make sure you use spaces instead of tabs at the beginning of the above lines.

Now add it to the git repository and push it to the Gitlab server

git add .
git commit -m"gitlab yml added"
git push

Now let’s get back to our GitLab server’s URL and see if it worked. Go to the project page and click on CI/CD

T Test Project 
Project overview 
Cycle Analytics 
O) Issues 
Merge Requests 
e Cl / CD 

You will be taken to the pipeline page which shows the result of your latest commit.

@ passed 
Pmaster bb227bø1 

It will take a minute or so before it completes the pipeline and as you can see in the screenshot above, mine took 41 seconds to complete and the status is “passed”

If you click on “jobs” under the CI/CD menu, you will be taken to another page which shows you more information about the execution of our yml file

O) Issues 
I h Merge Requests 
re CI/CD 
@ passed 
#5 Y master o- bb227bØ1 
#38 by O 

Next click on “passed” as shown in the screenshot above, this will take you to another page which will look something like this

T Test Project 
Test Project Jobs #5 
Job #5 triggered 22 minutes ago by 
@ passed 
Project overview 
Merge Requests 
Running with gittab—runner 12.6.ø (ac8e767a) 
on test project VaQ2xpuE 
Using Shetl executor. 
Fetching changes with git depth set to 50... 
Initialized empty Git repository 
Created fresh repository. 
From http://192.168.e.115/E1/test-project 
* (new ref) 
* [new branchl 
refs/pipeUnes/38 —s refs/pipe1ines/38 
Checking out bb227bø1 as master... 
Skipping Git submodules setup 
$ bash 
Build completed 
Job succeeded

As you can see, our gets executed by the GitLab runner and it succeeds to compile our project.

And with that, I will conclude this tutorial!

I leave the rest to you to play, explore, experiment and learn GitLab!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful. 

You can email us or contact us through this link if you have any questions or suggestions.

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Balaji Gunasekaran
Balaji Gunasekaran is a Senior Software Engineer with a Master of Science degree in Mechatronics and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He loves to write about tech and has written more than 300 articles. He has also published the book “Cracking the Embedded Software Engineering Interview”. You can follow him on LinkedIn