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Developer Onboarding

Awesome! You're about to become a GitLab developer! Make sure you've checked out our handbook beforehand, so you get a feeling of how we work at GitLab. Below you'll find everything you need to start developing. If something is missing, add it (as goes with everything at GitLab)!

GitLab Environments

We have multiple GitLab environments.

On those instances, please enable the performance bar by pressing p then b (even on production.)

Then, read how to use and enable the production Canary on

Getting started with GitLab development

To start development, follow the instructions for the GitLab Development Kit.

GitLab Repositories

GitLab consists of many subprojects. A curated list of GitLab Repositories can be found at the GitLab Engineering Projects page.

Almost all repositories are available on both and We also mirror to for availability reasons and GitHub for historical reasons.

All issues should be filed on


For everything related to infrastructure, check out the Infrastructure handbook. In particular production architecture might be useful for onboarding.

If you need a VPS for any reason, it's probably easiest to set one up at DigitalOcean. Ask another developer for access.

Basics of GitLab development


Please see the engineering workflow document in the handbook and read the developer documentation.


Read the developer security documentation prior to working on a security issue.


One of GitLab's strengths is its high quality of software. To achieve this we've introduced some requirements to all source code that is contributed. All requirements are mentioned in the Contribution guide. Make sure you read and follow it.


GitLab can be installed through an Omnibus package or from source on different Linux distributions and macOS. In order to maintain portability, we need to avoid adding extra dependencies and use of exotic database extensions. Every time you choose between changes in the application code or adding new dependencies, you should give priority to the first because this is easier to maintain and set up. If you still need to bring new dependencies to GitLab, ask another developer or the CTO for advice.

Submit your code

In GitLab all code should go through a review process before it can be merged. Make sure you submit a merge request for any changes you've made. When the merge request is ready, it should be assigned to someone else on the team. This person is then responsible for reviewing your code and merging it. Optionally, you can request another developer to help or review by writing a comment. If a merge request is not assigned, it will probably be ignored and create unnecessary delays.

Don't work on one task for multiple days before submitting a merge request. Even the biggest task can be split into smaller tasks. Try to submit a merge request for each part of the functionality. This means that we expect multiple merge requests per week from you. Smaller merge requests are more likely to receive good feedback and will get merged sooner.

Unless the change is very minor, or is fixing a bug that was introduced in the same version, create a changelog entry using the bin/changelog script. Do not include your name in the entry as we only do that to give recognition to volunteer contributors.

Working on GitLab EE

GitLab EE requires a license key to be used.

To be able to run your own instances for development you can use or clone license-app and generate your own licenses.

License-app and are only available for GitLab employees.

For information on what access to request, and for detailed steps and guidance for generating license keys, refer to How to Request / Install GitLab License Key document.

Ruby Gems

When building and publishing Gems for GitLab make sure multiple developers have access to said Gem on This ensures a Gem doesn't end up being orphaned because the original author left, lost their credentials, passed away, etc. When publishing a Gem you can add some or all of the following people as co-owners:

You're of course free to add other developers as well.