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How To Use the GitLab One-Click Install Image to Manage Git Repositories


Collaborating on projects, keeping track of source changes, and maintaining a clean code repository are some great reasons to use a version control system. Version control is now considered an essential tool in software development.

Git is the most popular distributed version control system. GitLab is a git repository management server that can be used to host repositories and set up control structures for git within a clean web interface. It is built on Ruby on Rails.

DigitalOcean has created a GitLab application image that can be used to instantly deploy GitLab on a DigitalOcean droplet. You can have your own repository system up and running in minutes.

Step One –– Create a GitLab Droplet

Before you begin using GitLab, you need to spin up a DigitalOcean droplet using the provided image.

From the Control Panel, click on the "Create" button that is visible from any page:

DigitalOcean create droplet button

Choose a name, the droplet size, and the region you would like to use.

The GitLab documentation recommends a minimum of 2GB of RAM and 2 CPU cores for optimum performance. If your projects are small (fewer than 100 users total), 1GB of RAM and 1 CPU core may be sufficient:

DigitalOcean hardware selection

Scroll down the page. Under the "Select Image" section, choose the "Applications" tab and click the "GitLab 6.2" image.

Add any SSH Keys, select any settings you'd like to use, and click "Create Droplet" at the bottom:

DigitalOcean finalize droplet

Your GitLab droplet will be created!

Step Two –– Configure Domain Names and Emails

We still need to configure just a few things first to utilize our environment.

Begin by setting up any domain names you would like to use for your GitLab instance. To learn how to set up domain names on DigitalOcean, click here.

Once your domain name is configured correctly, you need to adjust some values on the actual VPS instance. Log into your droplet as root through SSH.

GitLab Shell is an SSH component for GitLab. Open the GitLab shell configuration file with your text editor:

nano /home/git/gitlab-shell/config.yml

Adjust the gitlab_url parameter to match your domain name. As the comment in the file says, your URL should end with a slash:

gitlab_url: "http://your_domain.com/"

Save and close the file.

Next, open the main GitLab configuration file with your text editor:

nano /home/git/gitlab/config/gitlab.yml

In the gitlab: section, find and adjust the host: parameter to match your domain name:

  ## Web server settings
  host: your_domain.com
  port: 80
  https: false

While we're in this file, we can adjust the email settings that GitLab will use in the "From:" field in automated emails, and the email published for support contact, respectively:

email_from: [email protected]
support_email: [email protected]

Save and close the file.

Now, we just need to restart the service:

service gitlab restart

Step Three –– Log into your GitLab

Now, open a web browser and navigate to your domain name (or IP address if you did not set up a domain name).


DigitalOcean GitLab log in

You must use the following login credentials to log in for the first time:

After entering the above details, you will be asked to select a new password:

DigitalOcean GitLab new password

Log in again with your new password. You now have a full GitLab server configured and at your disposal to manage your repositories:

DigitalOcean GitLab landing page

Step Four –– Modify Account Information

It would probably be more helpful if the account you're using more accurately reflected your information. This will allow you to receive email updates and will display your information to other users.

First, click on the "Admin area" icon in the top-right corner:

DigitalOcean GitLab admin button

On the next page, look for a list of "Latest users" in the bottom middle column. This should only contain one user, the Administrator account you are logged into. Click it:

DigitalOcean GitLab admin user

Click on the "Edit" button in the upper-right corner:

DigitalOcean GitLab edit userpage

Change the account information at the top.

The "Name" field will be your name as displayed to other users. The "username" can be used to log in and as an owner of repositories. The "email" is where alerts will be sent.

It is important to at least change the email field:

DigitalOcean GitLab modify info

Click "Save changes" at the bottom. You should receive a confirmation email in your inbox. This will also allow you to receive password reset emails if you ever require it.


You should now have a server configured to handle your team's git projects. You can easily manage user access, configure both public and private repositories, and get an overview of your projects' issues and commits.

GitLab has a great help system accessible from within the user interface. In a future article, we will discuss how to manage repositories and users and effectively take advantage of the interface.

By Justin Ellingwood

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