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Gitlab Runner

Some features of GitLab require a "runner" (in the sense of a "gopher" or a "minion"). A runner "registers" itself with a GitLab instance, and is given tasks to run. Tasks include running Continuous Integration (CI) builds, and building container images.

While a runner isn't strictly required to use GitLab, if you want to do CI, you'll need at least one. There are many ways to deploy a runner - this recipe focuses on the docker container model.




1. [X] [Docker swarm cluster](/docker-swarm/design/) with [persistent shared storage](/docker-swarm/shared-storage-ceph/)
2. [X] [Traefik](/docker-swarm/traefik) configured per design
3. [X] DNS entry for the hostname you intend to use, pointed to your [keepalived](/docker-swarm/keepalived/) IP
4. [X] [GitLab](/recipes/gitlab) installation (see previous recipe)


Setup data locations

We'll need several directories to bind-mount into our runner containers, so create them in /var/data/gitlab:

mkdir -p /var/data/gitlab/runners/{1,2}

{{ no such element: dict object['recipe'] }} Docker Swarm config

Create a docker swarm config file in docker-compose syntax (v3), something like the example below:

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version: '3'

    image: gitlab/gitlab-runner
    - /var/data/gitlab/runners/1:/etc/gitlab-runner
    - internal

    image: gitlab/gitlab-runner
    - /var/data/gitlab/runners/2:/etc/gitlab-runner
    - internal

    driver: overlay
        - subnet:

Configure runners

From your GitLab UI, you can retrieve a "token" necessary to register a new runner. To register the runner, you can either create config.toml in each runner's bind-mounted folder (example below), or just docker exec into each runner container and execute gitlab-runner register to interactively generate config.toml.

Sample runner config.toml:

concurrent = 1
check_interval = 0

  name = "myrunner1"
  url = ""
  token = "<long string here>"
  executor = "docker"
    tls_verify = false
    image = "ruby:2.1"
    privileged = false
    disable_cache = false
    volumes = ["/cache"]
    shm_size = 0


Launch runners

Launch the GitLab Runner stack by running docker stack deploy gitlab-runner -c <path -to-docker-compose.yml>

Chef's notes 📓

  1. You'll note that I setup 2 runners. One is locked to a single project (this cookbook build), and the other is a shared runner. I wanted to ensure that one runner was always available to run CI for this project, even if I'd tied up another runner on something heavy-duty, like a container build. Customize this to your use case. 

  2. Originally I deployed runners in the same stack as GitLab, but I found that they would frequently fail to start properly when I launched the stack. I think that this was because the runners started so quickly (and GitLab starts sooo slowly!), that they always started up reporting that the GitLab instance was invalid or unavailable. I had issues with CI builds stuck permanently in a "pending" state, which were only resolved by restarting the runner. Having the runners deployed in a separate stack to GitLab avoids this problem. 

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