How to Install and Configure GitLab on Ubuntu 16.04

How to Install and Configure GitLab on Ubuntu 16.04

How to Install and Configure GitLab on Ubuntu 16.04

GitLab is an open source GIT repository manager based on Rails and developed by GitLab Inc. It is a web-based GIT repository manager that allows your team to work on code, track bugs and feature requests and to test and deploy applications. GitLab provides features like a wiki, issue tracking, code reviews, activity feeds and merge management. It is capable of hosting multiple projects.

GitLab is available in four editions:

  1. Gitlab CE (Community Edition) – self-hosted, free and support from the Community forum.
  2. Gitlab EE (Enterprise Edition) – self-hosted, paid app, comes with additional features.
  3. – SaaS, free.
  4. – Private GitLab instance managed by GitLab Inc.

In this tutorial, I will show you step-by-step how to install GitLab CE (Community Edition) on your own Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus server. In this tutorial, I will be using the ‘omnibus’ package provided by GitLab for easy installation.

What we will do:

  1. Install Packages
  2. Install GitLab
  3. Configure GitLab URL
  4. Generate SSL Let’s encrypt and DHPARAM Certificate
  5. Enable Nginx HTTPS for GitLab
  6. Configure UFW Firewall
  7. Perform the GitLab Installation
  8. Testing


  • Ubuntu 16.04 Server – 64bit
  • Min RAM 2GB
  • Root Privileges

Step 1 – Install required Ubuntu Packages

The first step is to install the packages needed for the GitLab installation. Please log in to the server as root user and upddate the Ubuntu repository.

ssh [email protected]
apt-get update

Now install the packages including curl for downloading the GitLab repository, ca-certificates, and postfix for the SMTP configuration.

Install all packages with the apt command below.

sudo apt install curl openssh-server ca-certificates postfix

During postfix installation, you will be prompted about the configuration, select ‘Internet Site’.

Configure Postfix on Ubuntu

and then enter the server domain name that shall be used for sending an email.

Configure Postfix hostame on ubuntu

Step 2 – Install Gitlab

In this step, we will install GitLab using the omnibus packages. Omnibus will install all packages, services, and tools required for running GitLab on your server.

Add GitLab repository with the curl command.

curl -sS | sudo bash

Adding GitLab Repository to Ubuntu 16.04

And then install GitLab CE Community Edition with the apt command.

sudo apt install gitlab-ce

Wait for the server to download and install the gitlab package. When the installation is complete, you will see the results as below.

Install GitLab

Step 3 – Configure Gitlab Main URL

Now we should configure the URL that will be used to access our GitLab server. I will use the domain name ‘’ for the GitLab URL here (please choose your own domain name) and I’ll use HTTPS for users access security.

The main configuration of GitLab is in the ‘/etc/gitlab’ directory. Go to that directory and edit the configuration file ‘gitlab.rb’ with vim.

cd /etc/gitlab
vim gitlab.rb

In the GitLab configuration go to line 9 ‘external_url’ and change the URL to your URL ‘’.

external_url ''

Save the file and exit the editor. In the next step will enable HTTPS for GitLab.

Configure GitLab main URL

Step 4 – Generate SSL Let’s encrypt and DHPARAM Certificate

In this step, we will enable the HTTPS protocol for GitLab. I will use a free SSL certificates provided by let’s encrypt for the gitlab domain name.

Install letsencrypt command-line tool with apt command.

sudo apt install letsencrypt -y

When the installation is complete, generate a new certificate for the gitlab domain name with the command below.

letsencrypt certonly -d

Enter your email address for the SSL certificate renew notification.

Generate SSL Certificate on Ubuntu 16.04

Choose ‘Agree’ for the Let’s Encrypt Terms of Services and wait.

Agreement of Letsencrypt TOS

When it’s done, you will see the result below.

SSL Letsencrypt certificate has been generated

New Let’s encrypt certificate files for GitLab have been generated. You can find the certificate files in the ‘/etc/letsencrypt/live’ directory.

Next, create a new directory named ‘ssl’ under the GitLab configuration directory.

mkdir -p /etc/gitlab/ssl/

And generate dhparam pem files in the ssl directory with the openssl command.

sudo openssl dhparam -out /etc/gitlab/ssl/dhparams.pem 2048

Generate DHPARAM certificate with openssl

Now change the permissions of the certificate files to 600.

chmod 600 /etc/gitlab/ssl/*

The SSL Let’s encrypt cert for GitLab and the DHPARAM certificate has been generated.

Step 5 – Enable Nginx HTTPS for GitLab

At this stage, we have the certificate files from Letsencrypt in ‘/etc/letsencrypt/live’ directory and the DHPARAM certificate in the ‘/etc/gitlab/ssl’ directory.

In this step, we will configure a GitLab to use our certificate files. Go to the ‘/etc/gitlab’ directory, then edit ‘gitlab.rb’ configuration with vim.

cd /etc/gitlab/
vim gitlab.rb

Change the external url to use ‘https’ instead of ‘http’.

external_url ''

Then add the new SSL configuration for gitlab as below.

nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true
nginx['ssl_certificate'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/"
nginx['ssl_certificate_key'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/"
nginx['ssl_dhparam'] = "/etc/gitlab/ssl/dhparams.pem"


We will enable HTTP to HTTPS redirect in gitlab.

Save the file and exit vim.

Enable HTTPS on GitLab and enable Redirect HTTP to HTTPS GitLab

Now we need to run the command below as root to apply the new gitlab configuration.

sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure

You will see the results as below.

Apply GitLab configuration has been completed

HTTPS Configuration for GitLab has been completed.

Step 6 – Configure UFW Firewall

In this step, we will enable the UFW firewall. It’s already installed on the system, we just need to start the service. We will run GitLab behind the UFW firewall, so we must open the HTTP and HTTPS ports.

Enable UFW firewall with the command below.

ufw enable

The command will run ufw service and add it to start automatically at the boot time.

Next, open new ports ssh, HTTP, and HTTPS.

ufw allow ssh
ufw allow http
ufw allow https

Allowing HTTP and HTTPS UFW Firewall Ubuntu

Now check the firewall status and make sure ssh, http, and https ports is on the list.

ufw status

HTTP and HTTPS ports are configured.

Checking UFW Rules Ubuntu

Step 7 – Gitlab post-installation

GitLab has been installed to the system, and it’s running behind the UFW firewall. In this step, we will do some quick settings like changing password, username and profile settings.

Open your web browser and type in the gitlab URL, mine is ‘’. You will be redirected to the HTTPS connection.

Reset GitLab root password

Reset GitLab Default Password After Installation

Now login to GitLab with user ‘root’ and with your password.

GitLab Login as default user root

Change Username and Profile

On the top right corner, click your profile and choose ‘Profile Settings’.

Change GitLab default profile

On the profile tab, exchange the default name with your name and email with your email address. Now click ‘Update Profile’.

Change Default Username and Email for GitLab

Click on the tab ‘Account’, change username with your own username. Then click ‘Update Username’.

Chagne Default Username gitLab

Add SSH Key

Make sure you already have a key, if you do not have an SSH key, you can generate with it with the command below.


And you will get two keys, ‘id_rsa’ your private key and ‘’ your public key.

Generate new SSH Key on Ubuntu

Next, click on the tab ‘SSH Key’, copy the content of ‘’ file and paste to the key box, and click ‘Add Key’.

Add SSH Key to GitLab

New SSH Key has been added.

Sign up Restrictions and Limit Settings

Click on the ‘admin area’ icon, and then click on the gear icon and choose ‘Settings’.

Configure GitLab system

On the ‘Account and Limit Settings’ – you can configure max projects per user and the ‘Sign-up Restrictions’, you can add the domain name of your email to the white-list box.

And if all is complete, scroll to the bottom and click ‘Save’.

Configure Limit Setting and Sign-up Restrictions GitLab

Basic GitLab configuration has been completed.

Step 8 – Testing

Finally, we will do some tests to ensure that our GitLab system is working properly.

Create New Project

Click the plus icon on the top to create a new project repository. Type in your project name, description, and setup the visibility settings of your project. Then click on the ‘Create project’ button.

GitLab Testing Create New Project

The new project has been created.

Test First Commit and Push

After the ‘howtoforge’ project has been created, you will be redirected to the project page. Now start adding new content to the repository. Make sure Git is installed on your computer and setup the global username and email for git with the command below.

git config --global "hakase"
git config --global "[email protected]"

Clone the Repository and add a file.

git clone https://[email protected]/hakase/howtoforge.git
cd howtoforge/

You will be asked for the ‘hakase’ user password. Please type the same password that you used when we accessed GitLab the first time.

Commit a new file to the howtoforge repository.

git add .
git commit -m 'Add file by hakase-labs'

Next, push the change to the repository on the GitLab server.

git push origin master

Type in your password and press Enter to continue. You will see the result as below.

GitLab Testing First Commit

Now open the howtoforge project from your web browser, and you will see that the new file has been added to the repository.

New GitLab Repository is working

Gitlab has been installed on a Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus server.


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