Host the GitLab product documentation

If you are not able to access the GitLab product documentation at docs.gitlab.com, you can host the documentation yourself instead.

Prerequisites:

  • The version of the product documentation site must be the same as the version of your GitLab installation.

Documentation self-hosting options

To host the GitLab product documentation, you can use:

  • A Docker container
  • GitLab Pages
  • Your own web server

After you create a website by using one of these methods, you redirect the UI links in the product to point to your website.

note
The website you create must be hosted under a subdirectory that matches your installed GitLab version (for example, 14.5/). The Docker images use this version by default.

The following examples use GitLab 14.5.

Self-host the product documentation with Docker

The documentation website is served under the port 4000 inside the container. In the following example, we expose this on the host under the same port.

Make sure you either:

  • Allow port 4000 in your firewall.
  • Use a different port. In following examples, replace the leftmost 4000 with the port different port.

To run the GitLab product documentation website in a Docker container:

  1. On the server where you host GitLab, or on any other server that your GitLab instance can communicate with:

    • If you use plain Docker, run:

      docker run --detach --name gitlab_docs -it --rm -p 4000:4000 registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5
      
    • If you host your GitLab instance using Docker compose, add the following to your existing docker-compose.yaml:

      version: '3.6'
      services:
        gitlab_docs:
          image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5
          hostname: 'https://docs.gitlab.example.com:4000'
          ports:
            - '4000:4000'
      

      Then, pull the changes:

      docker-compose up -d
      
  2. Visit http://0.0.0.0:4000 to view the documentation website and verify it works.
  3. Redirect the help links to the new Docs site.

Self-host the product documentation with GitLab Pages

You can use GitLab Pages to host the GitLab product documentation.

Prerequisite:

  • Ensure the Pages site URL does not use a subfolder. Because of how the docs site is pre-compiled, the CSS and JavaScript files are relative to the main domain or subdomain. For example, URLs like https://example.com/docs/ are not supported.

To host the product documentation site with GitLab Pages:

  1. Create a blank project.
  2. Create a new or edit your existing .gitlab-ci.yml file, and add the following pages job, while ensuring the version is the same as your GitLab installation:

    image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5
    pages:
      script:
      - mkdir public
      - cp -a /usr/share/nginx/html/* public/
      artifacts:
        paths:
        - public
    
  3. Optional. Set the GitLab Pages domain name. Depending on the type of the GitLab Pages website, you have two options:

    Type of website Default domain Custom domain
    Project website Not supported Supported
    User or group website Supported Supported
  4. Redirect the help links to the new Docs site.

Self-host the product documentation on your own web server

Because the product documentation site is static, you can take the contents of /usr/share/nginx/html from inside the container, and use your own web server to host the docs wherever you want.

The html directory should be served as is and it has the following structure:

├── 14.5/
├── index.html

In this example:

  • 14.5/ is the directory where the documentation is hosted.
  • index.html is a simple HTML file that redirects to the directory containing the documentation. In this case, 14.5/.

To extract the HTML files of the Docs site:

  1. Create the container that holds the HTML files of the documentation website:

    docker create -it --name gitlab_docs registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5
    
  2. Copy the website under /srv/gitlab/:

    docker cp gitlab-docs:/usr/share/nginx/html /srv/gitlab/
    

    You end up with a /srv/gitlab/html/ directory that holds the documentation website.

  3. Remove the container:

    docker rm -f gitlab_docs
    
  4. Point your web server to serve the contents of /srv/gitlab/html/.
  5. Redirect the help links to the new Docs site.

After your local product documentation site is running, redirect the help links in the GitLab application to your local site, by using the fully qualified domain name as the docs URL. For example, if you used the Docker method, enter http://0.0.0.0:4000.

You don’t need to append the version. GitLab detects it and appends it to documentation URL requests as needed. For example, if your GitLab version is 14.5:

  • The GitLab Docs URL becomes http://0.0.0.0:4000/14.5/.
  • The link in GitLab displays as <instance_url>/help/user/admin_area/settings/help_page#destination-requirements.
  • When you select the link, you are redirected to http://0.0.0.0:4000/14.5/ee/user/admin_area/settings/help_page/#destination-requirements.

To test the setting, select a Learn more link within the GitLab application.

Upgrade the product documentation to a later version

Upgrading the Docs site to a later version requires downloading the newer Docker image tag.

Upgrade using Docker

To upgrade to a later version using Docker:

  • If you use plain Docker:

    1. Stop the running container:

      sudo docker stop gitlab_docs
      
    2. Remove the existing container:

      sudo docker rm gitlab_docs
      
    3. Pull the new image. For example, 14.6:

      docker run --detach --name gitlab_docs -it --rm -p 4000:4000 registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.6
      
  • If you use Docker compose:

    1. Change the version in docker-compose.yaml, for example 14.6:

      version: '3.6'
      services:
        gitlab_docs:
          image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.6
          hostname: 'https://docs.gitlab.example.com:4000'
          ports:
            - '4000:4000'
      
    2. Pull the changes:

      docker-compose up -d
      

Upgrade using GitLab Pages

To upgrade to a later version using GitLab Pages:

  1. Edit your existing .gitlab-ci.yml file, and replace the image’s version number:

    image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5
    
  2. Commit the changes, push, and GitLab Pages pulls the new Docs site version.

Upgrade using your own web-server

To upgrade to a later version using your own web-server:

  1. Copy the HTML files of the Docs site:

    docker create -it --name gitlab_docs registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.6
    docker cp gitlab_docs:/usr/share/nginx/html /srv/gitlab/
    docker rm -f gitlab_docs
    
  2. Optional. Remove the old site:

    rm -r /srv/gitlab/html/14.5/
    

Known issues

If you self-host the product documentation:

  • The version dropdown displays additional versions that don’t exist. Selecting these versions displays a 404 Not Found page.
  • The search displays results from docs.gitlab.com and not the local site.
  • By default, the landing page redirects to the respective version (for example, /14.5/). This causes the landing page https://docs.gitlab.com to not be displayed.