Working with the bundled Consul service

As part of its High Availability stack, GitLab Premium includes a bundled version of Consul that can be managed through /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb.

A Consul cluster consists of multiple server agents, as well as client agents that run on other nodes which need to talk to the consul cluster.

Prerequisites

First, make sure to download/install GitLab Omnibus on each node.

Choose an installation method, then make sure you complete steps:

  1. Install and configure the necessary dependencies.
  2. Add the GitLab package repository and install the package.

When installing the GitLab package, do not supply EXTERNAL_URL value.

Configuring the Consul nodes

On each Consul node perform the following:

  1. Make sure you collect CONSUL_SERVER_NODES, which are the IP addresses or DNS records of the Consul server nodes, for the next step, before executing the next step.

  2. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb replacing values noted in the # START user configuration section:

    # Disable all components except Consul
    roles ['consul_role']
    
    # START user configuration
    # Replace placeholders:
    #
    # Y.Y.Y.Y consul1.gitlab.example.com Z.Z.Z.Z
    # with the addresses gathered for CONSUL_SERVER_NODES
    consul['configuration'] = {
      server: true,
      retry_join: %w(Y.Y.Y.Y consul1.gitlab.example.com Z.Z.Z.Z)
    }
    
    # Disable auto migrations
    gitlab_rails['auto_migrate'] = false
    #
    # END user configuration
    

    consul_role was introduced with GitLab 10.3

  3. Reconfigure GitLab for the changes to take effect.

Consul checkpoint

Before moving on, make sure Consul is configured correctly. Run the following command to verify all server nodes are communicating:

/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 any of the nodes isn’t alive or if any of the three nodes are missing, check the Troubleshooting section before proceeding.

Operations

Checking cluster membership

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

# /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin/consul members
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.

Restarting the server cluster

Note: This section only applies to server agents. It is safe to restart client agents whenever needed.

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

To be safe, we recommend you only restart one server agent at a time to ensure the cluster remains intact.

For larger clusters, it is possible to restart multiple agents at a time. See the Consul consensus document for how many failures it can tolerate. This will be the number of simulateneous restarts it can sustain.

Troubleshooting

Consul server agents unable to communicate

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

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

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. Run gitlab-ctl reconfigure

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

Consul agents do not start - Multiple private IPs

In the case that a node has multiple private IPs the agent 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 if you are running into this issue:

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. Run gitlab-ctl reconfigure

Outage recovery

If you lost enough server agents in the cluster to break quorum, then the cluster is considered failed, and it will not function without manual intervenetion.

Recreate from scratch

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

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

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

Recover a failed cluster

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