GitLab Pages administration

Version history
  • Introduced in GitLab EE 8.3.
  • Custom CNAMEs with TLS support were introduced in GitLab EE 8.5.
  • GitLab Pages was ported to Community Edition in GitLab 8.17.
  • Support for subgroup project’s websites was introduced in GitLab 11.8.

GitLab Pages allows for hosting of static sites. It must be configured by an administrator. Separate user documentation is available.

Note: This guide is for Omnibus GitLab installations. If you have installed GitLab from source, see GitLab Pages administration for source installations.

Overview

GitLab Pages makes use of the GitLab Pages daemon, a simple HTTP server written in Go that can listen on an external IP address and provide support for custom domains and custom certificates. It supports dynamic certificates through SNI and exposes pages using HTTP2 by default. You are encouraged to read its README to fully understand how it works.

In the case of custom domains (but not wildcard domains), the Pages daemon needs to listen on ports 80 and/or 443. For that reason, there is some flexibility in the way which you can set it up:

  1. Run the Pages daemon in the same server as GitLab, listening on a secondary IP.
  2. Run the Pages daemon in a separate server. In that case, the Pages path must also be present in the server that the Pages daemon is installed, so you will have to share it via network.
  3. Run the Pages daemon in the same server as GitLab, listening on the same IP but on different ports. In that case, you will have to proxy the traffic with a loadbalancer. If you choose that route note that you should use TCP load balancing for HTTPS. If you use TLS-termination (HTTPS-load balancing) the pages will not be able to be served with user provided certificates. For HTTP it’s OK to use HTTP or TCP load balancing.

In this document, we will proceed assuming the first option. If you are not supporting custom domains a secondary IP is not needed.

Prerequisites

Before proceeding with the Pages configuration, you will need to:

  1. Have an exclusive root domain for serving GitLab Pages. Note that you cannot use a subdomain of your GitLab’s instance domain.
  2. Configure a wildcard DNS record.
  3. (Optional) Have a wildcard certificate for that domain if you decide to serve Pages under HTTPS.
  4. (Optional but recommended) Enable Shared runners so that your users don’t have to bring their own.
  5. (Only for custom domains) Have a secondary IP.
Note: If your GitLab instance and the Pages daemon are deployed in a private network or behind a firewall, your GitLab Pages websites will only be accessible to devices/users that have access to the private network.

Add the domain to the Public Suffix List

The Public Suffix List is used by browsers to decide how to treat subdomains. If your GitLab instance allows members of the public to create GitLab Pages sites, it also allows those users to create subdomains on the pages domain (example.io). Adding the domain to the Public Suffix List prevents browsers from accepting supercookies, among other things.

Follow these instructions to submit your GitLab Pages subdomain. For instance, if your domain is example.io, you should request that example.io is added to the Public Suffix List. GitLab.com added gitlab.io in 2016.

DNS configuration

GitLab Pages expect to run on their own virtual host. In your DNS server/provider you need to add a wildcard DNS A record pointing to the host that GitLab runs. For example, an entry would look like this:

*.example.io. 1800 IN A    192.0.2.1
*.example.io. 1800 IN AAAA 2001::1

where example.io is the domain under which GitLab Pages will be served and 192.0.2.1 is the IPv4 address of your GitLab instance and 2001::1 is the IPv6 address. If you don’t have IPv6, you can omit the AAAA record.

Note: You should not use the GitLab domain to serve user pages. For more information see the security section.

Configuration

Depending on your needs, you can set up GitLab Pages in 4 different ways. The following options are listed from the easiest setup to the most advanced one. The absolute minimum requirement is to set up the wildcard DNS since that is needed in all configurations.

Wildcard domains

Requirements:


URL scheme: http://page.example.io

This is the minimum setup that you can use Pages with. It is the base for all other setups as described below. NGINX will proxy all requests to the daemon. The Pages daemon doesn’t listen to the outside world.

  1. Set the external URL for GitLab Pages in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    pages_external_url 'http://example.io'
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab.

Watch the video tutorial for this configuration.

Wildcard domains with TLS support

Requirements:


URL scheme: https://page.example.io

NGINX will proxy all requests to the daemon. Pages daemon doesn’t listen to the outside world.

  1. Place the certificate and key inside /etc/gitlab/ssl
  2. In /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb specify the following configuration:

    pages_external_url 'https://example.io'
    
    pages_nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true
    pages_nginx['ssl_certificate'] = "/etc/gitlab/ssl/pages-nginx.crt"
    pages_nginx['ssl_certificate_key'] = "/etc/gitlab/ssl/pages-nginx.key"
    

    where pages-nginx.crt and pages-nginx.key are the SSL cert and key, respectively.

  3. Reconfigure GitLab.

Additional configuration for Docker container

The GitLab Pages daemon will not have permissions to bind mounts when it runs in a Docker container. To overcome this issue you’ll need to change the chroot behavior:

  1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb.
  2. Set the inplace_chroot to true for GitLab Pages:

    gitlab_pages['inplace_chroot'] = true
    
  3. Reconfigure GitLab.
Note: inplace_chroot option might not work with the other features, such as Pages Access Control. The GitLab Pages README has more information about caveats and workarounds.

Advanced configuration

In addition to the wildcard domains, you can also have the option to configure GitLab Pages to work with custom domains. Again, there are two options here: support custom domains with and without TLS certificates. The easiest setup is that without TLS certificates. In either case, you’ll need a secondary IP. If you have IPv6 as well as IPv4 addresses, you can use them both.

Custom domains

Requirements:


URL scheme: http://page.example.io and http://domain.com

In that case, the Pages daemon is running, NGINX still proxies requests to the daemon but the daemon is also able to receive requests from the outside world. Custom domains are supported, but no TLS.

  1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    pages_external_url "http://example.io"
    nginx['listen_addresses'] = ['192.0.2.1']
    pages_nginx['enable'] = false
    gitlab_pages['external_http'] = ['192.0.2.2:80', '[2001::2]:80']
    

    where 192.0.2.1 is the primary IP address that GitLab is listening to and 192.0.2.2 and 2001::2 are the secondary IPs the GitLab Pages daemon listens on. If you don’t have IPv6, you can omit the IPv6 address.

  2. Reconfigure GitLab.

Custom domains with TLS support

Requirements:


URL scheme: https://page.example.io and https://domain.com

In that case, the Pages daemon is running, NGINX still proxies requests to the daemon but the daemon is also able to receive requests from the outside world. Custom domains and TLS are supported.

  1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    pages_external_url "https://example.io"
    nginx['listen_addresses'] = ['192.0.2.1']
    pages_nginx['enable'] = false
    gitlab_pages['cert'] = "/etc/gitlab/ssl/example.io.crt"
    gitlab_pages['cert_key'] = "/etc/gitlab/ssl/example.io.key"
    gitlab_pages['external_http'] = ['192.0.2.2:80', '[2001::2]:80']
    gitlab_pages['external_https'] = ['192.0.2.2:443', '[2001::2]:443']
    

    where 192.0.2.1 is the primary IP address that GitLab is listening to and 192.0.2.2 and 2001::2 are the secondary IPs where the GitLab Pages daemon listens on. If you don’t have IPv6, you can omit the IPv6 address.

  2. Reconfigure GitLab.

Custom domain verification

To prevent malicious users from hijacking domains that don’t belong to them, GitLab supports custom domain verification. When adding a custom domain, users will be required to prove they own it by adding a GitLab-controlled verification code to the DNS records for that domain.

If your userbase is private or otherwise trusted, you can disable the verification requirement. Navigate to Admin area ➔ Settings and uncheck Require users to prove ownership of custom domains in the Pages section. This setting is enabled by default.

Let’s Encrypt integration

Introduced in GitLab 12.1.

GitLab Pages’ Let’s Encrypt integration allows users to add Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for GitLab Pages sites served under a custom domain.

To enable it, you’ll need to:

  1. Choose an email on which you will recieve notifications about expiring domains.
  2. Navigate to your instance’s Admin Area > Settings > Preferences and expand Pages settings.
  3. Enter the email for receiving notifications and accept Let’s Encrypt’s Terms of Service as shown below.
  4. Click Save changes.

Let's Encrypt settings

Access control

Introduced in GitLab 11.5.

GitLab Pages access control can be configured per-project, and allows access to a Pages site to be controlled based on a user’s membership to that project.

Access control works by registering the Pages daemon as an OAuth application with GitLab. Whenever a request to access a private Pages site is made by an unauthenticated user, the Pages daemon redirects the user to GitLab. If authentication is successful, the user is redirected back to Pages with a token, which is persisted in a cookie. The cookies are signed with a secret key, so tampering can be detected.

Each request to view a resource in a private site is authenticated by Pages using that token. For each request it receives, it makes a request to the GitLab API to check that the user is authorized to read that site.

Pages access control is disabled by default. To enable it:

  1. Enable it in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_pages['access_control'] = true
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab.
  3. Users can now configure it in their projects’ settings.

Running behind a proxy

Like the rest of GitLab, Pages can be used in those environments where external internet connectivity is gated by a proxy. In order to use a proxy for GitLab pages:

  1. Configure in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_pages['http_proxy'] = 'http://example:8080'
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab for the changes to take effect.

Activate verbose logging for daemon

Verbose logging was introduced in Omnibus GitLab 11.1.

Follow the steps below to configure verbose logging of GitLab Pages daemon.

  1. By default the daemon only logs with INFO level. If you wish to make it log events with level DEBUG you must configure this in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_pages['log_verbose'] = true
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab.

Change storage path

Follow the steps below to change the default path where GitLab Pages’ contents are stored.

  1. Pages are stored by default in /var/opt/gitlab/gitlab-rails/shared/pages. If you wish to store them in another location you must set it up in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_rails['pages_path'] = "/mnt/storage/pages"
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab.

Configure listener for reverse proxy requests

Follow the steps below to configure the proxy listener of GitLab Pages. Introduced in Omnibus GitLab 11.1.

  1. By default the listener is configured to listen for requests on localhost:8090.

    If you wish to disable it you must configure this in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_pages['listen_proxy'] = nil
    

    If you wish to make it listen on a different port you must configure this also in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_pages['listen_proxy'] = "localhost:10080"
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab.

Set maximum pages size

The maximum size of the unpacked archive per project can be configured in the Admin area under the Application settings in the Maximum size of pages (MB). The default is 100MB.

Running GitLab Pages in a separate server

You may want to run GitLab Pages daemon on a separate server in order to decrease the load on your main application server. Follow the steps below to configure GitLab Pages in a separate server.

  1. Suppose you have the main GitLab application server named app1. Prepare new Linux server (let’s call it app2), create NFS share there and configure access to this share from app1. Let’s use the default GitLab Pages folder /var/opt/gitlab/gitlab-rails/shared/pages as the shared folder on app2 and mount it to /mnt/pages on app1.

  2. On app2 install GitLab omnibus and modify /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb this way:

    external_url 'http://<ip-address-of-the-server>'
    pages_external_url "http://<your-pages-domain>"
    postgresql['enable'] = false
    redis['enable'] = false
    prometheus['enable'] = false
    unicorn['enable'] = false
    sidekiq['enable'] = false
    gitlab_workhorse['enable'] = false
    gitaly['enable'] = false
    alertmanager['enable'] = false
    node_exporter['enable'] = false
    gitlab_rails['auto_migrate'] = false
    
  3. Run sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure.
  4. On app1 apply the following changes to /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_pages['enable'] = false
    pages_external_url "http://<your-pages-domain>"
    gitlab_rails['pages_path'] = "/mnt/pages"
    
  5. Run sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure.

Backup

Pages are part of the regular backup so there is nothing to configure.

Security

You should strongly consider running GitLab Pages under a different hostname than GitLab to prevent XSS attacks.