Install and Configure GitLab CE on Debian 11/10

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This guide will walk you through the steps to Install GitLab CE on Debian 11|Debian 10. GitLab Community Edition (CE) is an open-source application for hosting Git repositories in your own infrastructure. With GitLab you can do project planning and source code management to CI/CD and monitoring. GitLab has evolved to become a complete DevOps platform, delivered as a single application.

The next sections will cover the steps to be followed to have a running GitLab CE on Debian 11|Debian 10 Linux machine. Debian 11 is currently available for general use and we’ve chosen it to host our GitLab service.

In my setup I’ll use a server with the following specs:

See output shared below.

$ free -h
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:          7.8Gi        74Mi       7.6Gi       9.0Mi       101Mi       7.5Gi
Swap:         4.0Gi          0B       4.0Gi

$ grep -c  ^processor /proc/cpuinfo 

$ df -hT /
Filesystem     Type  Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/vda1      ext4   40G  963M   37G   3% /

So let’s start installation of GitLab CE on Debian 11|Debian 10 system.

Step 1: Update Debian server

For newly installed Debian server, update all packages and upgrade any system packages to the latest release.

sudo apt update
sudo apt -y upgrade 
sudo reboot

Step 2: Install GitLab Dependencies on Debian 11|Debian 10

Once the server has been updated and rebooted, install important software packages for GitLab. All the packages are installed from default package repositories.

sudo apt -y install curl vim openssh-server ca-certificates

Step 3: Configure Postfix Send-Only SMTP Server

GitLab should be able to send emails to you on Git activities. Configure Postfix SMTP Server using the guide below:

Other email solutions can be used as discussed in detail on configure an external SMTP server.

Step 4: Add the GitLab CE Repository

With the dependency packages installed, let’s add GitLab repository to our Debian 10 server.

curl | sudo bash

If this is successful, a positive message should be displayed.

Running apt-get update... done.
Installing debian-archive-keyring which is needed for installing 
apt-transport-https on many Debian systems.
Installing apt-transport-https... done.
Installing /etc/apt/sources.list.d/gitlab_gitlab-ce.list...done.
Importing packagecloud gpg key... done.
Running apt-get update... done.

The repository is setup! You can now install packages.

Step 5: Install GitLab CE on Debian 11|Debian 10

Next, install the GitLab package while changing to the URL at which you want to access your GitLab instance.

export GITLAB_URL=""
sudo EXTERNAL_URL="$GITLAB_URL" apt install gitlab-ce

If your server has a public IP and access to the internet, you can use https and Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.

export GITLAB_URL=""
sudo EXTERNAL_URL="$GITLAB_URL" apt install gitlab-ce

The installation will automatically configure and start GitLab at the URL provided.


Whenever you change GitLab configurations on /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb, reconfigure the application by running the following command.

sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure

Step 6: Access GitLab CE Web Interface

Once the installation of GitLab CE on Debian 11|Debian 10 is done, open the URL on your browser to finish the installation of GitLab CE.

On your first visit, you’ll be redirected to a password reset screen. Provide the password for the initial administrator account and click on the Change your password button when you are finished.


You will be redirected back to the login screen. Use the default account’s username root and password set to login.


The next screen should be a Welcome to GitLab page.


Learn more from the GitLab documentation.


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A systems engineer with excellent skills in systems administration, cloud computing, systems deployment, virtualization, containers, and a certified ethical hacker.