Configuring NFS for GitLab HA

Setting up NFS for a GitLab HA setup allows all applications nodes in a cluster to share the same files and maintain data consistency. Application nodes in an HA setup act as clients while the NFS server plays host.

Note: The instructions provided in this documentation allow for setting a quick proof of concept but will leave NFS as potential single point of failure and therefore not recommended for use in production. Explore options such as Pacemaker and Corosync for highly available NFS in production.

Below are instructions for setting up an application node(client) in an HA cluster to read from and write to a central NFS server(host).

NFS Server Setup

Follow the instructions below to set up and configure your NFS server.

Step 1 - Install NFS Server on Host

Installing the nfs-kernel-server package allows you to share directories with the clients running the GitLab application.

apt-get update
apt-get install nfs-kernel-server

Step 2 - Export Host’s Home Directory to Client

In this setup we will share the home directory on the host with the client. Edit the exports file as below to share the host’s home directory with the client. If you have multiple clients running GitLab you must enter the client IP addresses in line in the /etc/exports file.

#/etc/exports for one client
/home <client-ip-address>(rw,sync,no_root_squash,no_subtree_check)

#/etc/exports for three clients
/home <client-ip-address>(rw,sync,no_root_squash,no_subtree_check) <client-2-ip-address>(rw,sync,no_root_squash,no_subtree_check) <client-3-ip-address>(rw,sync,no_root_squash,no_subtree_check)

Restart the NFS server after making changes to the exports file for the changes to take effect.

systemctl restart nfs-kernel-server
Note: You may need to update your server’s firewall. See the firewall section at the end of this guide.

Client/ GitLab application node Setup

Follow the instructions below to connect any GitLab rails application node running inside your HA environment to the NFS server configured above.

Step 1 - Install NFS Common on Client

The nfs-common provides NFS functionality without installing server components which we don’t need running on the application nodes.

apt-get update
apt-get install nfs-common

Step 2 - Create Mount Points on Client

Create a directroy on the client that we can mount the shared directory from the host. Please note that if your mount point directory contains any files they will be hidden once the remote shares are mounted. An empty/new directory on the client is recommended for this purpose.

mkdir -p /nfs/home

Confirm that the mount point works by mounting it on the client and checking that it is mounted with the command below:

mount <host_ip_address>:/home
df -h

Step 3 - Set up Automatic Mounts on Boot

Edit /etc/fstab on client as below to mount the remote shares automatically at boot. Note that GitLab requires advisory file locking, which is only supported natively in NFS version 4. NFSv3 also supports locking as long as Linux Kernel 2.6.5+ is used. We recommend using version 4 and do not specifically test NFSv3.

#/etc/fstab
165.227.159.85:/home       /nfs/home      nfs4 defaults,soft,rsize=1048576,wsize=1048576,noatime,nofail,lookupcache=positive 0 2

Reboot the client and confirm that the mount point is mounted automatically.

Step 4 - Set up GitLab to Use NFS mounts

When using the default Omnibus configuration you will need to share 5 data locations between all GitLab cluster nodes. No other locations should be shared. Changing the default file locations in gitlab.rb on the client allows you to have one main mount point and have all the required locations as subdirectories to use the NFS mount for git-data.

git_data_dirs({"default" => "/nfs/home/var/opt/gitlab-data/git-data"})
user['home'] = '/nfs/home/var/opt/gitlab-data/home'
gitlab_rails['uploads_directory'] = '/nfs/home/var/opt/gitlab-data/uploads'
gitlab_rails['shared_path'] = '/nfs/home/var/opt/gitlab-data/shared'
gitlab_ci['builds_directory'] = '/nfs/home/var/opt/gitlab-data/builds'

Save the changes in gitlab.rb and run gitlab-ctl reconfigure.

NFS in a Firewalled Environment

If the traffic between your NFS server and NFS client(s) is subject to port filtering by a firewall, then you will need to reconfigure that firewall to allow NFS communication.

This guide from TDLP covers the basics of using NFS in a firewalled environment. Additionally, we encourage you to search for and review the specific documentation for your OS/distro and your firewall software.

Example for Ubuntu:

Check that NFS traffic from the client is allowed by the firewall on the host by running the command: sudo ufw status. If it’s being blocked, then you can allow traffic from a specific client with the command below.

sudo ufw allow from <client-ip-address> to any port nfs