GitLab Documentation

GitLab Pages from A to Z: Part 3

Type: user guide || Level: beginner || Author: Marcia Ramos

Setting Up Custom Domains - DNS Records and SSL/TLS Certificates

As described in the previous part of this series, setting up GitLab Pages with custom domains, and adding SSL/TLS certificates to them, are optional features of GitLab Pages.

These steps assume you've already set your site up and and it's served under the default Pages domain namespace.gitlab.io, or namespace.gitlab.io/project-name.

DNS Records

A Domain Name System (DNS) web service routes visitors to websites by translating domain names (such as www.example.com) into the numeric IP addresses (such as 192.0.2.1) that computers use to connect to each other.

A DNS record is created to point a (sub)domain to a certain location, which can be an IP address or another domain. In case you want to use GitLab Pages with your own (sub)domain, you need to access your domain's registrar control panel to add a DNS record pointing it back to your GitLab Pages site.

Note that how to add DNS records depends on which server your domain is hosted on. Every control panel has its own place to do it. If you are not an admin of your domain, and don't have access to your registrar, you'll need to ask for the technical support of your hosting service to do it for you.

To help you out, we've gathered some instructions on how to do that for the most popular hosting services:

If your hosting service is not listed above, you can just try to search the web for "how to add dns record on ".

DNS A record

In case you want to point a root domain (example.com) to your GitLab Pages site, deployed to namespace.gitlab.io, you need to log into your domain's admin control panel and add a DNS A record pointing your domain to Pages' server IP address. For projects on GitLab.com, this IP is 52.167.214.135. For projects leaving in other GitLab instances (CE or EE), please contact your sysadmin asking for this information (which IP address is Pages server running on your instance).

Practical Example:

DNS A record pointing to GitLab.com Pages server

DNS CNAME record

In case you want to point a subdomain (hello-world.example.com) to your GitLab Pages site initially deployed to namespace.gitlab.io, you need to log into your domain's admin control panel and add a DNS CNAME record pointing your subdomain to your website URL (namespace.gitlab.io) address.

Notice that, despite it's a user or project website, the CNAME should point to your Pages domain (namespace.gitlab.io), without any /project-name.

Practical Example:

DNS CNAME record pointing to GitLab.com project

TL;DR

From DNS Record To
domain.com A 52.167.214.135
subdomain.domain.com CNAME namespace.gitlab.io

Notes:

SSL/TLS Certificates

Every GitLab Pages project on GitLab.com will be available under HTTPS for the default Pages domain (*.gitlab.io). Once you set up your Pages project with your custom (sub)domain, if you want it secured by HTTPS, you will have to issue a certificate for that (sub)domain and install it on your project.

Note: Certificates are NOT required to add to your custom (sub)domain on your GitLab Pages project, though they are highly recommendable.

The importance of having any website securely served under HTTPS is explained on the introductory section of the blog post Secure GitLab Pages with StartSSL.

The reason why certificates are so important is that they encrypt the connection between the client (you, me, your visitors) and the server (where you site lives), through a keychain of authentications and validations.

Issuing Certificates

GitLab Pages accepts PEM certificates issued by Certificate Authorities (CA) and self-signed certificates. Of course, you'd rather issue a certificate than generate a self-signed, for security reasons and for having browsers trusting your site's certificate.

There are several different kinds of certificates, each one with certain security level. A static personal website will not require the same security level as an online banking web app, for instance. There are a couple Certificate Authorities that offer free certificates, aiming to make the internet more secure to everyone. The most popular is Let's Encrypt, which issues certificates trusted by most of browsers, it's open source, and free to use. Please read through this tutorial to understand how to secure your GitLab Pages website with Let's Encrypt.

With the same popularity, there are certificates issued by CloudFlare, which also offers a free CDN service. Their certs are valid up to 15 years. Read through the tutorial on how to add a CloudFlare Certificate to your GitLab Pages website.

Adding certificates to your project

Regardless the CA you choose, the steps to add your certificate to your Pages project are the same.

What do you need

  1. A PEM certificate
  2. An intermediate certificate
  3. A public key

Pages project - adding certificates

These fields are found under your Project's Settings > Pages > New Domain.

What's what?

Now what?

Now that you hopefully understand why you need all of this, it's simple:

Note: Do not open certificates or encryption keys in regular text editors. Always use code editors (such as Sublime Text, Atom, Dreamweaver, Brackets, etc).

← Part 2: Quick start guide - Setting up GitLab Pages Part 4: Creating and tweaking .gitlab-ci.yml for GitLab Pages →