Complete Guide To Setting Up GitLab Locally On Windows 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 Windows PC, so that you can have your very own GitLab setup running right at your home or organization!

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

Complete Guide To Setting Up GitLab Locally On Mac.

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

So let’s begin!

Things you will need

All you need are a computer running Windows OS 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 Windows

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 Windows computer.

The GitLab Server relies heavily on Linux technologies and hence it cannot be installed in our Windows PC natively. If you do some research, there are ways you can do it through the Linux subsystem in windows, but we are not going to take that approach.

The problem with these workarounds are

  1. The installation process is a bit complicated and is not recommended for beginners.
  2. They are only guaranteed to work on a version to version basis. What I mean by that is you need to have a particular version of Windows and a particular version of GitLab for everything to run smoothly. If you update your Windows or if you wish to upgrade your GitLab then you might break your GtiLab set up. Since both Windows and GitLab updates come frequently, it is not such a good idea to waste time trying to fix things every few months.
  3. It is unofficial and hence support for future versions cannot be guaranteed.
  4. These unofficial methods will bring their own limitations as opposed to running natively on Linux

Due to these above reasons, we are going to go for a more stable approach of installing the GitLab server in a virtual environment. We will also see in this article the ways to make it run as smoothly and efficiently as possible while making sure it consumes as few resources as possible.

So this is what we are going to do

  1. Install the GitLab Server on a Virtual Box running Ubuntu server
  2. Install GitLab runner natively on Windows.

This approach takes away the cons of using unofficial hacks, as it will work on all versions of you Windows and GitLab and you don’t need to worry too much while updating your software either!

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

STEP#1: Download and install VirtualBox

You can download and install VirtualBox from this link

Download VirtualBox 
Here you will find links to VirtualBox binaries and its source code. 
VirtualBox binaries 
By downloading, you agree to the terms and conditions of the respective lice 
If you're looking for the latest VirtualBox 5.2 packages, see VirtualBox 5.2 b 
6.0. Version 5.2 will remain supported until July 2020. 
VirtualBox 6.1.0 platform packages

Just click on the Windows hosts and the download should start automatically. The installation process is pretty straightforward, you can just accept the default options and click through to complete the process.

Once the installation is completed you can open VirtualBox from the Start menu in Windows.

STEP#2: Install Ubuntu Server as a Virtual Machine in your Windows PC.

The next step is to get a Linux distro to install our GitLab server. For this purpose, I recommend Ubuntu Server. I chose this particular distro for 2 reasons.

  1. Ubuntu is known for its stability.
  2. GitLab Server software has support for Ubuntu
  3. The server edition is chosen so that it will consume fewer resources on your computer.

For this first, you need the Ubuntu Server image. You can download it from this link.

Ubuntu usually offers 2 sets of packages for us to choose from.

  1. Long term support version: Has a support period of 5 years
  2. Latest Version: has all the latest features.
Download Ubuntu Server 
Ubuntu Server 18.04.3 CTS 
The long-term support version of Ubuntu Server, including the Train release of OpenStack 
and support guaranteed until April 2023 — 64-bit only. 
This release uses our new installer, Subiquity. If you need support for options not 
implemented in Subiquity, such as encrypted filesystem support, the traditional installer 
can be found on the alternative downloads page. 
Ubuntu Server 18.04 LTS release notes 
Ubuntu Server 19.10 
The latest version of Ubuntu Server, including nine months of security and maintenance 
For other versu 
the network in! 
past releases

I suggest you go for the LTS one, but then the latest version should also work just fine. So click on a “Download” button and your download should start automatically. It will take some time to complete as the iso is around 900MB.

Once the download is complete you can proceed to the installation process on VirtualBox.

STEP#3: Install Ubuntu Server on VirtualBox

Open VirtualBox Application and click on the “New” button

A window like this should pop up

Name and operating system 
Please choose a descriptive name and destination 
virtual machine and select the type of operating sys 
install on it. The name you choose will be used throL 
identify this machine. 
Machine Folder: 
Ubuntu Served 
Ubuntu (64-bit)

Give your virtual machine a name and choose Linux for type and ubuntu 64 bit for version and click “Continue”.

The next screen usually asks for RAM. GitLab recommends 8GB for a GitLab system with 100 users,  I suggest a minimum of 2GB RAM for a home set up, you can give more if you can, just make sure you don’t allot more than 50% of your total available RAM.

Memory size 
Select the amount of memory (RAM) in megabytes t 
the virtual machine. 
The recommended memory size is 1024 MB. 

Once you have allocated RAM space, Click “Continue” to the next page.

Hard disk 
If you wish you can add a virtual hard disk to the ne' 
either create a new hard disk file or select one from 
another location using the folder icon. 
If you need a more complex storage set-up you can 
make the changes to the machine settings once the 
The recommended size of the hard disk is 10,00 GE 
Do not add a virtual hard disk 
O Create a virtual hard disk now 
Use an existing virtual hard disk file

Next, you will be prompted for hard disk. Make sure “Create a virtual hard disk now” is selected and click “Create”

Hard disk file type 
Please choose the type of file that you would like to u 
hard disk. If you do not need to use it with other 
can leave this setting unchanged. 
O VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) 
VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) 
VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk)

Accept the default “VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)” and click “Continue”

Storage on physical hard disk 
Please choose whether the new virtual hard disk file s 
used (dynamically allocated) or if it should be created 
(fixed size). 
A dynamically allocated hard disk file will only use 
hard disk as it fills up (up to a maximum fixed size), a 
shrink again automatically when space on it is freed. 
A fixed size hard disk file may take longer to create c 
is often faster to use. 
O Dynamically allocated 
Fixed size

Accept “Dynamically Allocated” and Press continue. This option allocates hard disk space to the virtual machine on the run, so that as you use the more space, more will be allocated.

File location and size 
Please type the name of the new virtual hard disk file 
click on the folder icon to select a different folder to c 
/Users/EmbeddedlnventorNirtualBox VMs/Ubuntu Sel 
Select the size of the virtual hard disk in megabytes. 
on the amount of file data that a virtual machine will b 
hard disk. 
4,00 MB 

I suggest you allocate at least 25GB of space to the virtual machine, you can allot more if you can. Once you have chosen the disk space click create

Once you have done this, you should be taken back to the main window of VirtualBox and you should see the virtual machine you just created on the left pane of the window as shown in the screenshot below.

Next click on the “Settings”

And click on storage -> empty -> disk icon -> “Choose a disk file”

Select the ubuntu server iso image you have just downloaded and press ok. This is equivalent to inserting the Ubuntu disk in a real machine.

Next, go to settings->Network and choose “Bridged Adapter” in the “Attached to:” drop-down menu and press “OK”

I have explained the reason behind using these network settings in detail in this article, you can go ahead and read that if you are into computer networks.

The short explanation is, we will not be able to access the GitLab server from our other machines on the network unless we choose this option.

That’s it, the configuration is done!

You can now go ahead and click the start button!

Now the installation process will start. Since we have chosen to go with “Ubuntu server” in order to minimize the resource consumption (so that GitLab can take up as many resources as it needs) we don’t get a fancy Graphical UI, like in the desktop version of Ubuntu. You need to navigate the menus during installation only using Keyboard (tab, enter and arrow keys) since the Ubuntu server doesn’t come with mouse support. So go through the process and get it done.

STEP#4: Get the IP address of your ubuntu server

Okay now once you got the Ubuntu server up and running, you need to find its IP address and make a note of it.

To do that, use the “ifconfig” command on your Ubuntu server’s terminal

STEP#5: Download and install GitLab server

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

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 VM.

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 the VM that we have made a note of in Step 5 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 4 minutes 48 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 VM 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#6: Download GitLab runners

Before installing GitLab runners you need to install Git on your Windows PC. You can download the latest version of Git in this link.

Now that we have set up the Gitlab server and Git, the next step is to set up the GitLab runner!

At the time of writing this article, the installation process goes like this:

Make a folder on your computer and go to either this link for 32bit version or this link for 64bit version to download the binaries and put them in the folder you created

For getting the most up to date instruction, I am gonna ask you to follow the process given in the GitLab website

STEP#7: 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 Windows in this link to do the same.

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

Step# 7.1: Start the registration process

To enter these commands you need to open a command prompt with administrator privileges. For this just type cmd on the search menu, right-click on Command prompt and choose run as administrator

After that, just go to the folder to which you have downloaded the Gitlab Runner to and copy the path to that folder

Next, go back to the command line and give the following command

cd <path you copied>

cd C:\GitLab-Runner

Run the following command to start the registration process

gitlab-runner-windows-amd64.exe register

As shown in the screenshots above, enter your Virtual 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#7.2: 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#7.3: Enter the token

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

This will end the registration process the Runner to the server

Once registered you can start the GitLab runner as a Service (background task) by issuing the commands

gitlab-runner-windows-amd64.exe install
gitlab-runner-windows-amd64.exe start

As you can see in the screenshot below, in the task manager app we can see that our gitlab-runner service is running!

Test to see if everything works

By following the 7 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 open your Git-Bash app, which got installed as you were installing git.

Once opened 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”

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

git add .
git commit -m"first commit"

Then push your git repo onto the GitLab using the command

git push -u origin master

You will be prompted to enter the user name and password of your GitLab account, once done go to your browser and 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
touch build.ps1

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.

    - powershell -File build.ps1
    - 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.

As you can see, our build.ps1 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.

If you liked the post, feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

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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