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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.

Ingredients

  1. Docker swarm cluster with persistent shared storage
  2. GitLab installation (see previous recipe)

Preparation

Setup data locations

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

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

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-container register to interactively generate config.toml.

Sample runner config.toml:

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concurrent = 1
check_interval = 0

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

Serving

Launch runners

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

Log into your new instance at https://YOUR-FQDN, with user "root" and the password you specified in gitlab.env.

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 so 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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