How to set up Consul

A Consul cluster consists of both server and client agents. The servers run on their own nodes and the clients run on other nodes that in turn communicate with the servers.

GitLab Premium includes a bundled version of Consul a service networking solution that you can manage by using /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb.

Configure the Consul nodes

Important: Before proceeding, refer to the available reference architectures to find out how many Consul server nodes you should have.

On each Consul server node perform the following:

  1. Follow the instructions to install GitLab by choosing your preferred platform, but do not supply the EXTERNAL_URL value when asked.
  2. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb, and add the following by replacing the values noted in the retry_join section. In the example below, there are three nodes, two denoted with their IP, and one with its FQDN, you can use either notation:

    # Disable all components except Consul
    roles ['consul_role']
    
    # Consul nodes: can be FQDN or IP, separated by a whitespace
    consul['configuration'] = {
      server: true,
      retry_join: %w(10.10.10.1 consul1.gitlab.example.com 10.10.10.2)
    }
    
    # Disable auto migrations
    gitlab_rails['auto_migrate'] = false
    
  3. Reconfigure GitLab for the changes to take effect.
  4. Run the following command to ensure Consul is both configured correctly and to verify that all server nodes are communicating:

    sudo /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin/consul members
    

    The output should be similar to:

    Node                 Address               Status  Type    Build  Protocol  DC
    CONSUL_NODE_ONE      XXX.XXX.XXX.YYY:8301  alive   server  0.9.2  2         gitlab_consul
    CONSUL_NODE_TWO      XXX.XXX.XXX.YYY:8301  alive   server  0.9.2  2         gitlab_consul
    CONSUL_NODE_THREE    XXX.XXX.XXX.YYY:8301  alive   server  0.9.2  2         gitlab_consul
    

    If the results display any nodes with a status that isn’t alive, or if any of the three nodes are missing, see the Troubleshooting section.

Upgrade the Consul nodes

To upgrade your Consul nodes, upgrade the GitLab package.

Nodes should be:

  • Members of a healthy cluster prior to upgrading the Omnibus GitLab package.
  • Upgraded one node at a time.

Identify any existing health issues in the cluster by running the following command within each node. The command will return an empty array if the cluster is healthy:

curl http://127.0.0.1:8500/v1/health/state/critical

Consul nodes communicate using the raft protocol. If the current leader goes offline, there needs to be a leader election. A leader node must exist to facilitate synchronization across the cluster. If too many nodes go offline at the same time, the cluster will lose quorum and not elect a leader due to broken consensus.

Consult the troubleshooting section if the cluster is not able to recover after the upgrade. The outage recovery may be of particular interest.

Note: GitLab uses Consul to store only transient data that is easily regenerated. If the bundled Consul was not used by any process other than GitLab itself, then rebuilding the cluster from scratch is fine.

Troubleshooting Consul

Below are some useful operations should you need to debug any issues. You can see any error logs by running:

sudo gitlab-ctl tail consul

Check the cluster membership

To determine which nodes are part of the cluster, run the following on any member in the cluster:

sudo /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin/consul members

The output should be similar to:

Node            Address               Status  Type    Build  Protocol  DC
consul-b        XX.XX.X.Y:8301        alive   server  0.9.0  2         gitlab_consul
consul-c        XX.XX.X.Y:8301        alive   server  0.9.0  2         gitlab_consul
consul-c        XX.XX.X.Y:8301        alive   server  0.9.0  2         gitlab_consul
db-a            XX.XX.X.Y:8301        alive   client  0.9.0  2         gitlab_consul
db-b            XX.XX.X.Y:8301        alive   client  0.9.0  2         gitlab_consul

Ideally all nodes will have a Status of alive.

Restart Consul

If it is necessary to restart Consul, it is important to do this in a controlled manner to maintain quorum. If quorum is lost, to recover the cluster, you will need to follow the Consul outage recovery process.

To be safe, it’s recommended that you only restart Consul in one node at a time to ensure the cluster remains intact. For larger clusters, it is possible to restart multiple nodes at a time. See the Consul consensus document for how many failures it can tolerate. This will be the number of simultaneous restarts it can sustain.

To restart Consul:

sudo gitlab-ctl restart consul

Consul nodes unable to communicate

By default, Consul will attempt to bind to 0.0.0.0, but it will advertise the first private IP address on the node for other Consul nodes to communicate with it. If the other nodes cannot communicate with a node on this address, then the cluster will have a failed status.

If you are running into this issue, you will see messages like the following in gitlab-ctl tail consul output:

2017-09-25_19:53:39.90821     2017/09/25 19:53:39 [WARN] raft: no known peers, aborting election
2017-09-25_19:53:41.74356     2017/09/25 19:53:41 [ERR] agent: failed to sync remote state: No cluster leader

To fix this:

  1. Pick an address on each node that all of the other nodes can reach this node through.
  2. Update your /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb

    consul['configuration'] = {
      ...
      bind_addr: 'IP ADDRESS'
    }
    
  3. Reconfigure GitLab;

    gitlab-ctl reconfigure
    

If you still see the errors, you may have to erase the Consul database and reinitialize on the affected node.

Consul does not start - multiple private IPs

In case that a node has multiple private IPs, Consul will be confused as to which of the private addresses to advertise, and then immediately exit on start.

You will see messages like the following in gitlab-ctl tail consul output:

2017-11-09_17:41:45.52876 ==> Starting Consul agent...
2017-11-09_17:41:45.53057 ==> Error creating agent: Failed to get advertise address: Multiple private IPs found. Please configure one.

To fix this:

  1. Pick an address on the node that all of the other nodes can reach this node through.
  2. Update your /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb

    consul['configuration'] = {
      ...
      bind_addr: 'IP ADDRESS'
    }
    
  3. Reconfigure GitLab;

    gitlab-ctl reconfigure
    

Outage recovery

If you lost enough Consul nodes in the cluster to break quorum, then the cluster is considered failed, and it will not function without manual intervention. In that case, you can either recreate the nodes from scratch or attempt a recover.

Recreate from scratch

By default, GitLab does not store anything in the Consul node that cannot be recreated. To erase the Consul database and reinitialize:

sudo gitlab-ctl stop consul
sudo rm -rf /var/opt/gitlab/consul/data
sudo gitlab-ctl start consul

After this, the node should start back up, and the rest of the server agents rejoin. Shortly after that, the client agents should rejoin as well.

Recover a failed node

If you have taken advantage of Consul to store other data and want to restore the failed node, follow the Consul guide to recover a failed cluster.