Migrating gitlab projects

If you’re migrating a gitlab project from one server to another, unless the two gitlab instances are the same major revision you may run into a couple of problems with the export/import procedure.

The first error you’re likely to hit is something like:

The repository could not be imported.
Error importing repository into pp-computing/todo-list - Import version mismatch: Required 0.1.8 but was 0.1.6

This is because whenever there is a potentially “dangerous” change to the import script, gitlab “fails safe” and refuses to import the project. If the two numbers are reasonably close together (and your project is straight forward enough that you can carefully check the users, permissions, wiki pages, issues and milestones etc then you can try this to pretend that your export tarball is newer than it really is:

mkdir project_export
tar xfv old_export_file.tar.gz -C project_export
cd project_export
echo '0.1.8' > VERSION
tar czf experimental_new_project_export.tar.gz *

If you have milestones in your project, you may hit another error if you’re migrating from a gitlab instance that is older than 9.5 is:

Error importing repository into my-group/my-project - Validation failed: Group milestone should belong either to a project or a group.

The workaround for this one appears to be to import your project into your personal gitlab space, and then “move” it to your group space.

If you hit any errors not covered in the above, let us know below!

(And don’t forget you’ll need to update your remotes in any checked out working copies you have!)

git – deleting local branches that were merged upstream

Like most people, we’re using git right at the centre of our puppet config management workflow. As I’ve mentioned previously, it features prominently in my top 10 most frequently used commands.

Our workflow is based around feature branches, and quite often we end up in a situation where we have a lot of local branches which have already been merged in the copy held upstream on github/gitlab/etc.

Today, I looked and noticed that while we only had 4 active branches on the gitlab server I had 41 branches locally, most of which related to features fixed a long time ago.

This doesn’t cause much of a problem although it can get confusing (especially if you’re likely to re-use a branch name in the future) – 41 branches is enough that deleting them one at a time by hand is tedious.

It looks like some gui tools/IDEs will take care of this for you, but I’m a command line kinda guy, and the git command line tools don’t seem to quite have this functionality baked in.

After a bit of poking about, I came up with the following approach which deletes any branch which no longer exists upstream.

# Delete all stale remote-tracking branches in origin.
git remote prune origin

# "git branch -vv" now includes the word "gone" against branches which the previous command removed, so
# use awk to identify those branches and plumb the list into "git branch -d" which will delete them locally
git branch -vv | awk '/: gone\]/ { print $1 }' | xargs git branch -D

The above seemed to do the right thing for the two repos I tested it on, but well… you might want to try it on something unimportant before you trust it!

NB if a branch has only ever existed locally (and never appeared under origin), it should leave it alone. But I’ve not tested that bit either.

One year of ResNet Gitlab

Today, it has been one year since the first Merge Request (MR) was created and accepted by ResNet* Gitlab. During that time, about 250 working days, we have processed 462 MRs as part of our Puppet workflow. That’s almost two a day!

We introduced Git and Gitlab into our workflow to replace the ageing svn component which didn’t handle branching and merging well at all. Jumping to Git’s versatile branching model and more recently adding r10k into the mix has made it trivially easy to spin up ephemeral dev environments to work on features and fixes, and then to test and release them into the production environment safely.

We honestly can’t work out how on earth we used to cope without such a cool workflow.

Happy Birthday, ResNet Gitlab!

* 1990s ResNet brand for historical reasons only – this Gitlab installation is used mostly for managing eduroam and DNS. Maybe NetOps would have been a better name 🙂

Building a Gitlab server with Puppet

GitHub is an excellent tool for code-sharing, but it has the major disadvantage of being fully public. You probably don’t want to put your confidential stuff and shared secrets in there! You can pay for private repositories, but the issue still stands that we shouldn’t be putting confidential UoB things in a non-approved cloud provider.

I briefly investigated several self-hosted pointy-clicky Git interfaces, including Gitorious, Gitolite, GitLab, Phabricator and Stash. They all have their relative merits but they all seem to be a total pain to install and run in a production environment, often requiring that we randomly git clone something into the webroot and then not providing a sane upgrade mechanism. Many of them have dependencies on modules not included with the enterprise Linux distributions

In the end, the easiest-to-deploy option seemed to be to use the GitLab Omnibus installer. This bundles the GitLab application with all its dependencies in a single RPM for ease of deployment. There’s also a Puppet Forge module called spuder/gitlab which makes it nice and easy to install on a Puppet-managed node.

After fiddling, my final solution invokes the Forge module like this:

class { 'gitlab' : 
  puppet_manage_config          => true,
  puppet_manage_backups         => true,
  puppet_manage_packages        => false,
  gitlab_branch                 => '7.4.3',
  external_url                  => "https://${::fqdn}",
  ssl_certificate               => '/etc/gitlab/ssl/gitlab.crt',
  ssl_certificate_key           => '/etc/gitlab/ssl/gitlab.key',
  redirect_http_to_https        => true,
  backup_keep_time              => 5184000, # 5184000 = 60 days
  gitlab_default_projects_limit => 100,
  gitlab_download_link          => 'https://downloads-packages.s3.amazonaws.com/centos-6.5/gitlab-7.4.3_omnibus.5.1.0.ci-1.el6.x86_64.rpm',
  gitlab_email_from             => 'gitlab@example.com',
  ldap_enabled                  => true,
  ldap_host                     => 'ldap.example.com',
  ldap_base                     => 'CN=Users,DC=example,DC=com',
  ldap_port                     => '636',
  ldap_uid                      => 'uid',
  ldap_method                   => 'ssl',
  ldap_bind_dn                  => 'uid=ldapuser,ou=system,dc=example,dc=com',
  ldap_password                 => '*********',

I also added a couple of resources to install the certificates and create a firewall exception, to make a complete working deployment.

The upgrade path requires manual intervention, but is mostly automatic. You just need to change gitlab_download_link to point to a newer RPM and change gitlab_branch to match.

If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to write something about the experience of using GitLab after a while, when I’ve found out some of the quirks.

Update by DaveG! (in lieu of comments currently on this site)

Gitlab have changed their install process to require use of their repo, so this module doesn’t like it very much. They’ve also changed the package name to ‘gitlab-ce’ rather than just ‘gitlab’.

To work around this I needed to:

  • Add name => 'gitlab-ce' to the package { 'gitlab': ... } params in gitlab/manifests/install.pp
  • Find the package RPM for a new shiny version of Gitlab. 7.11.4 in this case, via https://packages.gitlab.com/gitlab/gitlab-ce?filter=rpms
  • Copy the RPM to a local web-accessible location as a mirror, and use this as the location for the gitlab_download_link class parameter

This seems to have allowed it to work fine!
(Caveat: I had some strange behaviour with whether it would run the gitlab instance correctly, but I’m not sure if that’s because of left-overs from a previous install attempt. Needs more testing!)