How to self-host the docs site

If you have a self-managed instance of GitLab, you may not be able to access the product documentation as hosted on docs.gitlab.com from your GitLab instance.

Be aware of the following items if you self-host the product documentation:

  • You must host the product documentation site under a subdirectory that matches your installed GitLab version (for example, 14.5/). The Docker images hosted by the GitLab Docs team provide this by default. We use a script to normalize the links and prefix them with the respective version.
  • The version dropdown will display additional versions that don’t exist, selecting those versions will display a 404 Not Found page.
  • Results when using the search box will display results from docs.gitlab.com and not the local documentation.
  • When you use the Docker images to serve the product documentation site, by default the landing page redirects to the respective version (for example, /14.5/), which causes the landing page https://docs.gitlab.com to not be displayed.

Documentation self-hosting options

You can self-host the GitLab product documentation locally using one of these methods:

  • Docker
  • GitLab Pages
  • From your own webserver

The examples on this page are based on GitLab 14.5.

Self-host the product documentation with Docker

The Docker images use a built-in webserver listening on port 4000, so you need to expose that.

In the server that you host GitLab, or any other server that your GitLab instance can talk to, you can use Docker to pull the docs site:

docker run -it --rm -p 4000:4000 registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5

If you use Docker compose to host your GitLab instance, add the following to docker-compose.yaml:

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

Self-host the product documentation with GitLab Pages

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

Prerequisite:

  • The Pages site URL must not use a subfolder. Due to the nature 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 new 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

Self-host the product documentation on your own webserver

Because the product documentation site is static, you can grab the directory from the container (in /usr/share/nginx/html) and use your own web server to host it wherever you want.

Use the following commands, and replace <destination> with the directory where the documentation files will be copied to:

docker create -it --name gitlab-docs registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-docs:14.5
docker cp gitlab-docs:/usr/share/nginx/html <destination>
docker rm -f gitlab-docs

After your local product documentation site is running, redirect the help links in the GitLab application to your local site.

Be sure to use 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, as GitLab will detect it and append it to any 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 inside GitLab displays as <instance_url>/help/user/admin_area/settings/help_page#destination-requirements, but when you select it, 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.