Workspace configuration

Version history
On self-managed GitLab, by default this feature is available. To hide the feature, an administrator can disable the feature flag named remote_development_feature_flag. On, this feature is available. The feature is not ready for production use.
This feature is in Beta and subject to change without notice. To leave feedback, see the feedback issue.

You can use workspaces to create and manage isolated development environments for your GitLab projects. Each workspace includes its own set of dependencies, libraries, and tools, which you can customize to meet the specific needs of each project.

Set up a workspace

Support for private projects introduced in GitLab 16.4.


  • Set up a Kubernetes cluster that the GitLab agent for Kubernetes supports. See the supported Kubernetes versions.
  • Ensure autoscaling for the Kubernetes cluster is enabled.
  • In the Kubernetes cluster, verify that a default storage class is defined so that volumes can be dynamically provisioned for each workspace.
  • In the Kubernetes cluster, install an Ingress controller of your choice (for example, ingress-nginx) and make that controller accessible over a domain. For example, point * and to the load balancer exposed by the Ingress controller.
  • In the Kubernetes cluster, install gitlab-workspaces-proxy.
  • In the Kubernetes cluster, install the GitLab agent for Kubernetes.
  • Configure remote development settings for the GitLab agent with this snippet and update dns_zone as needed:

      enabled: true
      dns_zone: ""

    You can use any agent defined under the root group of your project, provided that remote development is properly configured for that agent.

  • You must have at least the Developer role in the root group.
  • In each project you want to use this feature for, create a devfile:
    1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to and find your project.
    2. In the root directory of your project, create a file named .devfile.yaml. You can use one of the example configurations.
  • Ensure the container images used in the devfile support arbitrary user IDs.

Create a workspace

To create a workspace:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to.
  2. Select Your work.
  3. Select Workspaces.
  4. Select New workspace.
  5. From the Select project dropdown list, select a project with a .devfile.yaml file.
  6. From the Select cluster agent dropdown list, select a cluster agent owned by the group the project belongs to.
  7. In Time before automatic termination, enter the number of hours until the workspace automatically terminates. This timeout is a safety measure to prevent a workspace from consuming excessive resources or running indefinitely.
  8. Select Create workspace.

The workspace might take a few minutes to start. To open the workspace, under Preview, select the workspace. You also have access to the terminal and can install any necessary dependencies.

Connect to a workspace with SSH

Introduced in GitLab 16.3.


To connect to a workspace with an SSH client:

  1. Run this command:

    ssh <workspace_name>@<ssh_proxy>
  2. For the password, enter your personal access token with at least the read_api scope.

When you connect to gitlab-workspaces-proxy through the TCP load balancer, gitlab-workspaces-proxy examines the username (workspace name) and interacts with GitLab to verify:

  • The personal access token
  • User access to the workspace

Set up gitlab-workspaces-proxy for SSH connections


  • You must have an SSH host key for client verification.

SSH is now enabled by default in gitlab-workspaces-proxy. To set up gitlab-workspaces-proxy with the GitLab Helm chart:

  1. Run this command:

    ssh-keygen -f ssh-host-key -N '' -t rsa
    export SSH_HOST_KEY=$(pwd)/ssh-host-key
  2. Install gitlab-workspaces-proxy with the generated SSH host key:

    helm upgrade --install gitlab-workspaces-proxy \
          gitlab-workspaces-proxy/gitlab-workspaces-proxy \
          --version 0.1.8 \
          --namespace=gitlab-workspaces \
          --create-namespace \
          --set="auth.client_id=${CLIENT_ID}" \
          --set="auth.client_secret=${CLIENT_SECRET}" \
          --set="${GITLAB_URL}" \
          --set="auth.redirect_uri=${REDIRECT_URI}" \
          --set="auth.signing_key=${SIGNING_KEY}" \
          --set="ingress.tls.workspaceDomainCert=$(cat ${WORKSPACES_DOMAIN_CERT})" \
          --set="ingress.tls.workspaceDomainKey=$(cat ${WORKSPACES_DOMAIN_KEY})" \
          --set="ingress.tls.wildcardDomainCert=$(cat ${WILDCARD_DOMAIN_CERT})" \
          --set="ingress.tls.wildcardDomainKey=$(cat ${WILDCARD_DOMAIN_KEY})" \
          --set="ssh.host_key=$(cat ${SSH_HOST_KEY})" \

Update your runtime images

To update your runtime images for SSH connections:

  1. Install sshd in your runtime images.
  2. Create a user named gitlab-workspaces to allow access to your container without a password.
FROM golang:1.20.5-bullseye

# Install `openssh-server` and other dependencies
RUN apt update \
    && apt upgrade -y \
    && apt install  openssh-server sudo curl git wget software-properties-common apt-transport-https --yes \
    && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

# Permit empty passwords
RUN sed -i 's/nullok_secure/nullok/' /etc/pam.d/common-auth
RUN echo "PermitEmptyPasswords yes" >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config

# Generate a workspace host key
RUN ssh-keygen -A
RUN chmod 775 /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key && \
    chmod 775 /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ecdsa_key && \
    chmod 775 /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key

# Create a `gitlab-workspaces` user
RUN useradd -l -u 5001 -G sudo -md /home/gitlab-workspaces -s /bin/bash gitlab-workspaces
RUN passwd -d gitlab-workspaces
ENV HOME=/home/gitlab-workspaces
RUN mkdir -p /home/gitlab-workspaces && chgrp -R 0 /home && chmod -R g=u /etc/passwd /etc/group /home

# Allow sign-in access to `/etc/shadow`
RUN chmod 775 /etc/shadow

USER gitlab-workspaces

Disable remote development in the GitLab agent for Kubernetes

You can stop the remote_development module of the GitLab agent for Kubernetes from communicating with GitLab. To disable remote development in the GitLab agent configuration, set this property:

  enabled: false

If you already have running workspaces, an administrator must manually delete these workspaces in Kubernetes.


Failed to renew lease when creating a workspace

You might not be able to create a workspace due to a known issue in the GitLab agent for Kubernetes. The following error message might appear in the agent’s log:

{"level":"info","time":"2023-01-01T00:00:00.000Z","msg":"failed to renew lease gitlab-agent-remote-dev-dev/agent-123XX-lock: timed out waiting for the condition\n","agent_id":XXXX}

This issue occurs when an agent instance cannot renew its leadership lease, which results in the shutdown of leader-only modules including the remote_development module. To resolve this issue, restart the agent instance.