This blog post is about how to set up your own GitLab Runner in a Docker system. If you don’t have your own GitLab yet, then I have already created a blog post, on how to set up your own GitLab in a Docker container the post you can find here

Once we have a fully working GitLab instance ( It can be on Docker or even Bare Metal server hosted ) we can start setting up a Runner that will Execute our Code do a build and etc in the Docker containers. Therefore we can use the same server on what we host GitLab if we want, but in the tutorial, I will be using a separate server.

Since my base system is Ubuntu then I will be using Ubuntu DEB. But I will add also for other vendors:

For example, for Debian or Ubuntu:

# Replace ${arch} with any of the supported architectures, e.g. amd64, arm, arm64
# A full list of architectures can be found here
curl -LJO "${arch}.deb"

For example, for CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux:

# Replace ${arch} with any of the supported architectures, e.g. amd64, arm, arm64
# A full list of architectures can be found here
curl -LJO "${arch}.rpm"

For example, for FIPS compliant GitLab Runner on RHEL:

# Currently only amd64 is a supported arch
# A full list of architectures can be found here
curl -LJO ""

Installation process is also easy.

For example, for Debian or Ubuntu:

dpkg -i gitlab-runner_<arch>.deb

For example, for CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux:

rpm -i gitlab-runner_<arch>.rpm

Now once we have installed the GitLab Runner we need to configure and register it by executing the following command:

sudo gitlab-runner register
  1. It will ask for your GitLab hosted server web address ( Suggestion put your GitLab under SSL before you setup )

2. It will ask you for a GitLab registration token:
* To find the token go to https://<your-gitlab-address> login as an Administrator user
* Once you have logged in, click on Menu and then select Admin.

* In the Dashboard select Runners

* Click on “Register an instance runner” and you will get the token.

Now return to your terminal and Enter a description for the runner:
* It Already offers your server hostname, but I enter something specific to know what server is in use if you have several Runners.

Enter tags for the runner (comma-separated):
* Click enter

Enter optional maintenance note for the runner:
* Click enter

Registering runner… succeeded runner=********* Enter an executor: docker, docker-ssh, parallels, shell, ssh, virtualbox, docker-ssh+machine, custom, docker+machine, kubernetes:
* type: docker

Enter the default Docker image (for example, ruby:2.7):
* type: ubuntu:latest

Now we need to do some changes to our GitLab configuration before we start it. So open your Linux terminal and execute:

nano /etc/gitlab-runner/config.toml

After concurrent = 1 add

output_limit = 900000

After check_interval = 0 add

docker-network-mode = "host"

After executor = “docker” add:

builds_dir = "/home/gitlab-runner/build"

Change privileged = false to:

privileged = true

Change volumes = [“/cache”] to:

volumes = ["/cache", "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock"]

And save

The end result should look like this:

concurrent = 1
output_limit = 900000
check_interval = 0
docker-network-mode = "host"
  session_timeout = 1800

  name = "<your-gitlab-runner-hostname>"
  url = "https://<your-gitlab-url>"
  token = "<your-gitlab-token>"
  executor = "docker"
  builds_dir = "/home/gitlab-runner/build"
    tls_verify = false
    image = "ubuntu:latest"
    privileged = true 
    disable_entrypoint_overwrite = false
    oom_kill_disable = false
    disable_cache = false
    volumes = ["/cache", "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock"]
    shm_size = 0

Once that is done, let’s do the following and create a working directory:

mkdir /home/gitlab-runner/build

Let’s allow GitLab to work with newly created working directory:

sudo chmod +x /home/gitlab-runner/build

Let’s create a GitLab user and allow it to execute bin/bash to allow create docker container

sudo useradd --comment 'GitLab Runner' --create-home gitlab-runner --shell /bin/bash

Let’s install GitLab Runner to start automatically on startup and Let’s start:

sudo gitlab-runner install --user=gitlab-runner --working-directory=/home/gitlab-runner && sudo gitlab-runner start

If we go back to https:// and go to the page where we got the token, you will see your newly created runner that is in status ready.

So we now have set up a GitLab runner, that can build/Run/Deploy, and execute our project using Docker containers.

If you want to Upgrade your existing runner then you need to:

Stop the Runner:

sudo gitlab-runner stop

Download the binary to replace the GitLab Runner executable. For example:

sudo curl -L --output /usr/local/bin/gitlab-runner ""

Give it permissions to execute:

sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/gitlab-runner

Start the service:

sudo gitlab-runner start

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