Book Image

GitLab Quick Start Guide

By : Adam O'Grady
Book Image

GitLab Quick Start Guide

By: Adam O'Grady

Overview of this book

Gitlab is an open source repository management and version control toolkit with an enterprise offering. This book is the ideal guide to GitLab as a version control system (VCS), issue management tool, and a continuous integration platform. The book starts with an introduction to GitLab, a walkthrough of its features, and explores concepts such as version control systems, continuous integration, and continuous deployment. It then takes you through the process of downloading and installing a local copy of the on-premise version of GitLab in Ubuntu and/or CentOS. You will look at some common work?ows associated with GitLab work?ow and learn about project management in GitLab. You will see tools and techniques for migrating your code base from various version control systems such as GitHub and SVN to GitLab. By the end of the book, you will be using Gitlab for repository management, and be able to migrate projects from other VCSs to GitLab.
Table of Contents (10 chapters)


GitLab provides a number of ways to view and interact with a git repository. There is the classic file browser that lets you explore the files in your repository:

There's also a branch viewer, which lets you see variations of your work under active development, as well as branches that are considered stale and no longer developed:

Alongside this is a tag viewer that lets you explore specific releases of your work:

There are tools that can be used to analyze and view the commit graph:

Among these tools are charting tools, which are used to get a better understanding of the composition of the repository:

Alongside this is a breakdown of the frequencies of commits and activity:

For users who are not familiar with git commands or those away from their work computer, GitLab also provides a web interface where you can make changes to code and commit it straight from the browser:

Aside from being a web interface for git, GitLab also provides tools for a variety of purposes, including powerful feature planning and issue management tools:

These tools help keep everyone in sync, allowing them to understand the current workload and roadmap and making sure that work isn't double-handled and is correctly prioritized. With things like epics, milestones, and cycle analytics, GitLab can help measure the effectiveness of your development process.

It also includes the necessary tools for code review prior to merging branches to ensure that all work is up to scratch:

Automated testing tools and pipelines are also included to help make sure that code is working perfectly before it's merged back in or released:

Thanks to the powerful, built-in, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) platform (explored further in Chapter 5, Continuous Integration And Continuous Deployment), GitLab can not only test your code, but also build and deploy/release it under circumstances that you control.

Self-managed versus Software as a Service (SaaS)

GitLab can be used in one of two ways: either self-managed, where you host your own instance of GitLab Community Edition/Enterprise Edition, or using the online platform, which comes as a paid or free Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

Using comes with the benefits of no maintenance or infrastructure costs and regular automatic updates without any manual labour. They have an amazing setup with multiple backup strategies, redundancies, and failovers to ensure high uptime and no loss of data in the event of a major incident.

On the other hand, you might not feel comfortable putting all of your work on someone else's infrastructure, which is why GitLab provides an easy-to-install omnibus package that can be installed on your own computer or a server that you host. This can also be handy if you have strict security and firewall requirements that don't allow for externally hosted code. There's also the benefit of easy integration with your own LDAP or Active Directory services for user management, and potential performance gains in larger repositories from not having to shift large amounts of data over external network links.

Free versus paid

Lastly, there are multiple tiers of GitLab for both the self-managed and SaaS versions. Please note that both versions can be used for free and provide all of the main features that you'd expect (git hosting, code review, issue management, testing, and deployment). The added tiers provide extra features that are available at different levels of pricing on a per-user, per-month basis. For example, at the lowest paid tier, you get priority and next-business-day support, and with the SaaS version, you also get burndown charts, multiple approval requirements on merge requests, and issue weighting. At the higher levels, more features get added, including the following:

  • Service desk mode
  • Canary deployments
  • Support for multiple Kubernetes clusters
  • CI/CD for external repositories
  • Disaster recovery
  • Epics
  • Roadmaps, and much more

We'll cover more of these paid features in Chapter 7, Advanced and Paid Features.