Install the GDK development environment

If you want to contribute to the GitLab codebase and want a development environment in which to test your changes, you can use the GitLab Development Kit (GDK), a local version of GitLab that’s yours to play with.

The GDK is a local development environment that includes an installation of self-managed GitLab, sample projects, and administrator access with which you can test functionality.


If you prefer to use GDK in a local virtual machine, use the steps in Configure GDK-in-a-box

View an interactive demo of this step.

Install and configure GitLab Development Kit (GDK)

If you already have a working GDK, update it to use the community fork.

Set aside about two hours to install the GDK. If all goes smoothly, it should take about an hour to install.

Sometimes the installation needs some tweaks to make it work, so you should also set aside some time for troubleshooting. It might seem like a lot of work, but after you have the GDK running, you’ll be able to make any changes.

GitLab in GDK

To install the GDK:

  1. Ensure you’re on one of the supported platforms.
  2. Confirm that Git is installed, and that you have a source code editor.
  3. Choose the directory where you want to install the GDK. The installation script installs the application to a new subdirectory called gitlab-development-kit.

    Keep the directory name short. Some users encounter issues with long directory names.

  4. From the command line, go to that directory. In this example, create and change to the dev directory:

    mkdir ~/dev && cd "$_"
  5. Run the one-line installation command:

    curl "" | bash
  6. For the message Where would you like to install the GDK? [./gitlab-development-kit], press Enter to accept the default location.
  7. For the message Which GitLab repo URL would you like to clone?, enter the GitLab community fork URL:
  8. For the message GitLab would like to collect basic error and usage data, choose your option based on the prompt.

    While the installation is running, copy any messages that are displayed. If you have any problems with the installation, you can use this output as part of troubleshooting.

  9. After the installation is complete, copy the source command from the message corresponding to your shell from the message INFO: To make sure GDK commands are available in this shell:

    source ~/.asdf/
  10. Go to the directory where the GDK was installed:

    cd gitlab-development-kit
  11. Run gdk truncate-legacy-tables to ensure that the data in the main and CI databases are truncated, then gdk doctor to confirm the GDK installation:

    gdk truncate-legacy-tables && gdk doctor
    • If gdk doctor returns errors, consult the Troubleshoot GDK section.
    • If gdk doctor returns Your GDK is healthy, proceed to the next step.
  12. Start the GDK:

    gdk start
  13. Wait for GitLab available at, and connect to the GDK using the URL provided.

  14. Sign in with the username root and the password 5iveL!fe. You will be prompted to reset your password the first time you sign in.

  15. Continue to Change the code with the GDK.

Update an existing GDK installation

If you have an existing GDK installation, you should update it to use the community fork.

  1. Delete the existing gitlab-development-kit/gitlab directory.
  2. Clone the community fork into that location:

    cd gitlab-development-kit
    git clone

To confirm it was successful:

  1. Ensure the gitlab-development-kit/gitlab directory exists.
  2. Go to the top gitlab-development-kit directory and run gdk stop and gdk start.

If you get errors, run gdk doctor to troubleshoot. For more advanced troubleshooting, continue to the Troubleshoot GDK section.

Troubleshoot GDK

If you encounter issues, go to the gitlab-development-kit/gitlab directory and run gdk doctor.

If gdk doctor returns Node or Ruby-related errors, run:

yarn install && bundle install
bundle exec rails db:migrate RAILS_ENV=development

For more advanced troubleshooting, see the troubleshooting documentation and the #contribute channel on Discord.

Change the code

After the GDK is ready, continue to Contribute code with the GDK.