GitLab Team member’s guide to using official build infrastructure

If you are a GitLab team member, you have access to the build infrastructure or to the colleagues who have access to the infrastructure. You can use that access to build packages.

Test a gitlab-org/gitlab project merge request

If you have a merge request (MR) in the gitlab-org/gitlab project, you can test that MR using a package or a Docker image.

In the CI pipeline corresponding to your MR, run the e2e:package-and-test job in the qa stage to trigger:

  • A downstream pipeline in the omnibus-gitlab QA mirror, which gives you an Ubuntu 22.04 package and an all-in-one Docker image for testing.
  • A gitlab-qa run using these artifacts as well.

Test an omnibus-gitlab project MR

If you have an MR in the omnibus-gitlab project, you can test that MR using a package or a Docker image.

Similar to the GitLab project, pipelines running for MRs in omnibus-gitlab also have manual jobs to get a package or Docker image. The Trigger:ce-package and Trigger:ee-package jobs build CE and EE packages and Docker images and perform a QA run.

Use specific branches or versions of a GitLab component

Versions of the primary GitLab components like GitLab Rails or Gitaly are controlled by:

  • *_VERSION files in the omnibus-gitlab repository.
  • *_VERSION environment variables present during the build.

Check the following table for more information:

FilenameEnvironment variableDescription
VERSIONGITLAB_VERSIONControls the Git reference of the GitLab Rails application. By default, points to the master branch of the GitLab-FOSS repository. If you want to use the GitLab repository, set the environment variable ee to true.
GITALY_SERVER_VERSIONGITALY_SERVER_VERSIONGit reference of the Gitaly repository.
GITLAB_PAGES_VERSIONGITLAB_PAGES_VERSIONGit reference of the GitLab Pages repository.
GITLAB_SHELL_VERSIONGITLAB_SHELL_VERSIONGit reference of the GitLab Shell repository.
GITLAB_ELASTICSEARCH_INDEXER_VERSIONGITLAB_ELASTICSEARCH_INDEXER_VERSIONGit reference of the GitLab Elasticsearch Indexer repository. Used only in EE builds.
GITLAB_KAS_VERSIONGITLAB_KAS_VERSIONGit reference of the GitLab Kubernetes Agent Server repository.

If you are running the e2e:package-and-test job from a GitLab MR, the GITLAB_VERSION environment variable is set to the commit SHA corresponding to the pipeline. Other environment variables, if not specified, are populated from their corresponding files and passed on to the triggered pipeline.

Environment variables take precedence over *_VERSION files.

Temporarily specify a component version

Temporarily specify a component version using any of the following methods:

  • Edit the *_VERSION file, commit and push to start a pipeline, but revert this change before the MR is marked ready for merge. We recommend you open an unresolved discussion on this diff in the MR so you remember to revert it.

  • Set the environment variable in the .gitlab-ci.yml file, commit and push to start a pipeline, but revert this change before the MR is marked ready for merge. We recommend you open an unresolved discussion on this diff in the MR so you remember to revert it.

  • Pass the environment variable as a Git push option.

    git push <REMOTE> -o ci.variable="<ENV_VAR>=<VALUE>"
    # Passing multiple variables
    git push <REMOTE> -o ci.variable="<ENV_VAR_1>=<VALUE_1>" -o ci.variable="<ENV_VAR_2>=<VALUE_2>"

    Note: This works only if you have some changes to push. If remote is already updated with your local branch, no new pipeline is created.

  • Manually run the pipeline from UI while specifying the environment variables.

Environment variables are passed to the triggered downstream pipeline in the QA mirror so that they are used during builds.

You should use environment variables instead of changing the *_VERSION files to avoid the extra step of reverting changes. The *_VERSION files are most efficient when you need repeated package builds of omnibus-gitlab, but the only changes happening are in GitLab components. In this case, when a pipeline is run after changing the *_VERSION files, it can be retried to build new packages pulling in changes from the upstream component feature branch instead of manually running new pipelines.

Use a specific mirror or fork of a GitLab component

The repository sources for most software that Omnibus builds are in the .custom_sources.yml file in the omnibus-gitlab repository. You can override the main GitLab components using environment variables. Check the table below for details:

Environment variableDescription
ALTERNATIVE_PRIVATE_TOKENAn access token used if needing to pull from private repositories.
GITLAB_ALTERNATIVE_REPOGit repository location for the GitLab Rails application.
GITLAB_SHELL_ALTERNATIVE_REPOGit repository location for GitLab Shell.
GITLAB_PAGES_ALTERNATIVE_REPOGit repository location for GitLab Pages.
GITALY_SERVER_ALTERNATIVE_REPOGit repository location for Gitaly.
GITLAB_ELASTICSEARCH_INDEXER_ALTERNATIVE_REPOGit repository location for GitLab Elasticsearch Indexer.
GITLAB_KAS_ALTERNATIVE_REPOGit repository location for GitLab Kubernetes Agent Server.

Build packages for other operating systems


  • You must have permission to push branches to the omnibus-gitlab release mirror.

Use the release mirror to:

  • Build a package for an operating system other than Ubuntu 22.04.
  • Ensure packages with your changes can be built on all operating systems.

To build packages for other operating systems:

  1. Modify *_VERSION files or environment variables as specified in the previous section if needed. You might want to set the ee environment variable in the CI configuration to true to use a commit from the GitLab repository instead of GitLab-FOSS.

  2. Push your branch to the release mirror and check the pipelines.

  3. The pipeline builds packages for all supported operating systems and a Docker image.