Installing Gitlab on Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server

Gitlab is self hosted Git management software, not only that but it's also free and open-source.

While Gitlab has a brilliant installation guide available, it is focused on Ubuntu/Debian and not all those instructions carry over to OS X so after a bit of tinkering I've put together this guide for anyone else looking to run Gitlab on OS X.

I'll be working on 10.8 (Mountain Lion) but these instructions will most likely work on 10.7 (Lion) as well. My original install of Gitlab was on an Xserve machine that also had OS X Server installed so these steps will work with that also.


This guide has allowed me to setup Gitlab (v4.2) on a private local network with around 10 users and nearly 200 repositories. Any serious production use I highly recommend using system Gitlab recommends to allow for consistent support and I accept no responsibility for any problems you encounter while following this guide.

I have only managed to get Gitlab 4.2 working on OS X so far which uses Gitolite so this guide will be installing Gitlab 4.2 and assumes a clean installation of OS X.


The Gitlab team suggests at least 1GB RAM in your machine to run the Gitlab application, since Mountain Lion requires about 2GB+ RAM you can go ahead and tick that off the list.

Install Command Line Tools and Homebrew

If you don't have Homebrew installed already then before you start copy & pasting into Terminal you had better check you have Command Line Tools installed first. Done that? OK, time to install Homebrew.

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

# Add Homebrew binary path to the front of the $PATH 
echo 'export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.bash_profile

# Update some permissions for later on
sudo chgrp -R staff /usr/local
sudo chmod -R g+w /usr/local

A simple script that will automatically install Homebrew on your machine, once it's done we need to check it's all working and update the formulas.

brew doctor # Raring to brew?
brew update

Packages and dependencies

We actually have most of what we need on OS X already, but we are missing a few core packages that we'll install with Homebrew now, these are mainly required for RVM to compile Ruby a little later on. Some of the other packages such as MySQL and Redis I will go through separately.

brew tap homebrew/dupes
brew install bash curl git icu4c
brew install autoconf automake apple-gcc42 libtool pkg-config openssl readline libyaml sqlite libxml2 libxslt libksba curl-ca-bundle

What's better than one Python? Two apparently!

We need to create a symlink to Python for compatibility reasons not relating to OS X but for some other Linux distributions that are in limbo between version 2 and 3 of Python.

sudo ln -sv /usr/bin/python /usr/bin/python2
python2 --version # Should be Python 2.7.X

We also need to install Pygments for colourful syntax highlighting.

sudo easy_install Pygments

Create user accounts

Gitolite and Gitlab need a user to operate as. In OS X you can create this user using the GUI via System Preferences or via the command line like we are about to do. For this example I recommend the command line due to the extra options we need to set.

The Git user

Create a new group called git with the ID of 1050.

sudo dscl . -create /Groups/git
sudo dscl . -create /Groups/git PrimaryGroupID 1050

Now we create a git user account with the recently created git group as the primary group.

# Check the id is available
id 1050

sudo dscl . -create /Users/git
sudo dscl . -create /Users/git UserShell /bin/bash
sudo dscl . -create /Users/git RealName "Git"
sudo dscl . -create /Users/git UniqueID 1050
sudo dscl . -create /Users/git PrimaryGroupID 1050
sudo dscl . -create /Users/git NFSHomeDirectory /Users/git

# Obviously change "mysupersecurepassword123" to something better ;)
sudo dscl . -passwd /Users/git mysupersecurepassword123

# Check our new Git user exists 
dscl . -read /Users/git

# Create home directory
sudo createhomedir -c -u git

The Gitlab user

Now we have a git user for Gitolite, we want to create the application user for Gitlab this time with id 1051.

# Check the id is available
id 1051

sudo dscl . -create /Users/gitlab
sudo dscl . -create /Users/gitlab UserShell /bin/bash
sudo dscl . -create /Users/gitlab RealName "Gitlab HQ"
sudo dscl . -create /Users/gitlab UniqueID 1051
sudo dscl . -create /Users/gitlab PrimaryGroupID 1050
sudo dscl . -create /Users/gitlab NFSHomeDirectory /Users/gitlab

# Add user to staff group so RVM can access Homebrew files later
sudo dseditgroup -o edit -a gitlab -t user staff

# Obviously change "mysupersecurepassword123" to something better ;)
sudo dscl . -passwd /Users/gitlab mysupersecurepassword123

# Check our new Git user exists 
dscl . -read /Users/gitlab

# Create home directory
sudo createhomedir -c -u gitlab

# Generate the SSH key for the gitlab user, this is used to access Gitolite
sudo -u gitlab -H ssh-keygen -q -N '' -t rsa -f /Users/gitlab/.ssh/id_rsa

Install and setup Gitolite

Clone GitLab's fork of the Gitolite source code:

cd /Users/git
sudo -u git -H git clone -b gl-v320 /Users/git/gitolite

Setup Gitolite with Gitlab as its admin. Important Note: GitLab assumes full and unshared control over this Gitolite installation.

# Add Gitolite scripts to $PATH
sudo -u git -H mkdir /Users/git/bin
sudo -u git -H sh -c 'printf "%b\n%b\n" "PATH=\$PATH:/Users/git/bin" "export PATH" >> /Users/git/.profile'
sudo -u git -H sh -c '/Users/git/gitolite/install -ln /Users/git/bin'

# Copy the gitlab user's (public) SSH key ...
sudo cp /Users/gitlab/.ssh/ /Users/git/
sudo chmod 0444 /Users/git/

# ... and use it as the admin key for the Gitolite setup
sudo -u git -H sh -c "PATH=/Users/git/bin:$PATH; gitolite setup -pk /Users/git/"

Fix the directory permissions for the configuration directory:

# Make sure the Gitolite config dir is owned by git
sudo chmod 750 /Users/git/.gitolite/
sudo chown -R git:git /Users/git/.gitolite/

Fix the directory permissions for the repositories:

# Make sure the repositories dir is owned by git and it stays that way
sudo chmod -R ug+rwX,o-rwx /Users/git/repositories/
sudo chown -R git:git /Users/git/repositories/
sudo -u git -H find /Users/git/repositories -type d -print0 | sudo xargs -0 chmod g+s

Add domains to the list of known_hosts

To avoid problems later we will be manually adding the system the known_hosts file of the gitlab user. We will do this for a couple of hostnames.

# Check SSH access to your system is on
sudo systemsetup -setremotelogin on
sudo -u gitlab -H ssh git@localhost

That's the localhost added but we should also add the machines .local hostname too. For server using an external FQDN you will see that hostname returned and not a .local.

By using a .local domain you are only able to access Gitlab on your local network. It is possible to expand this to the outside world but this involves opening ports on your router and mapping your external IP address to a FQDN. All of which is outside the scope of this guide.

# Find out your hostname, should output your-machine-name.local
sudo -u gitlab -H ssh git@your-machine-name.local

Test everything works so far

# Clone the admin repo to be sure your users have access to Gitolite
sudo -u gitlab -H git clone git@localhost:gitolite-admin.git /tmp/gitolite-admin

# If it succeeded without errors you can remove the cloned repo
sudo rm -rf /tmp/gitolite-admin

If you can't clone the gitolite-admin repository: DO NOT PROCEED WITH INSTALLATION! Check the Trouble Shooting Guide and make sure you have followed all of the above steps carefully.

Install and setup MySQL Database for Gitlab

Gitlab recommends MySQL as the datastore so we'll follow that recommendation. You may already have MySQL installed, if you have and it was installed using Homebrew you will just need to move the .plist file from ~/Library/LaunchAgents to /Library/LaunchDaemons as this will start the service when the machine starts instead of when your user logs in otherwise Gitlab won't be available unless you login which is not what we want.

Run the following commands as your sudo capable user.

brew install mysql

# Some problems with permissions have been reported
sudo chmod -R g+w /usr/loca/var/mysql 

# Add MySQL to launchctl to let OS X manage the process and start when you login, note the LaunchDaemons location to start service when machine starts not when user logs in.
sudo cp /usr/local/opt/mysql/*.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons
sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.mysql.plist

# "Secure" your MySQL installation, really it's just a handy way to clean up defaults and set a root password.

# Login to MySQL
mysql -u root -p

# Create a user for GitLab. (change $password to a real password)
mysql> CREATE USER 'gitlab'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '$password';

# Create the GitLab production database
mysql> CREATE DATABASE IF NOT EXISTS `gitlabhq_production` DEFAULT CHARACTER SET `utf8` COLLATE `utf8_unicode_ci`;

# Grant the GitLab user necessary permissions on the table.
mysql> GRANT SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, DROP, INDEX, ALTER ON `gitlabhq_production`.* TO 'gitlab'@'localhost';

# Quit the database session
mysql> \q

# Try connecting to the new database with the new user
sudo -u gitlab -H mysql -u gitlab -p -D gitlabhq_production

Install and setup Redis

Gitlab uses the fantastic Sidekiq project to handle the scheduling of background jobs such as sending out emails and repo management tasks. Sidekiq uses Redis as a datastore so let's set that up now. We will also want Redis to start up with the machine so we will be adding it to the LaunchDaemons directory also.

brew install redis

sudo cp /usr/local/opt/redis/*.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons
sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.redis.plist

This will run Redis with defaults, you can change these defaults but to do so I recommend duplicating the defaults first so you always have a reference. You can update /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.redis.plist to the new config location. It's also best the run Redis with daemonize set to no so that OS X can manage the process correctly.

Install RVM and Ruby

Before we start trying to install RVM we need to login as the right user to make thing easier. Only the gitlab user will need RVM and Ruby installed.

su - gitlab # The hyphen is important

We will be using RVM to install Ruby. I'm installing Ruby 1.9.3 as at the time of writing this is the supported version for Gitlab. If you have any problems installing Ruby you should check rvm requirements to make sure you have everything it needs installed — this guide should remain correct but just incase.

curl -L | bash -s stable
source ~/.rvm/scripts/rvm

rvm autolibs enable
rvm install 1.9.3

rvm use 1.9.3

# Check our shell is using the correct Ruby version
ruby -v

Create RVM Gemset for Gitlab

With Ruby installed and our shell now running the correct version of Ruby we need to make a gemset to make it easier to manage the gems we will install for Gitlab. We then set this gemset as the default. After this is done we need Bundler installed to that gemset.

rvm gemset create gitlab
rvm use 1.9.3@gitlab --default

# Skip Rdoc generation
echo 'gem: --no-rdoc --no-ri' >> ~/.gemrc
gem install bundler

Install and setup Gitlab!

At last now we are going to clone the Gitlab repository and setup the application.

# Clone the Gitlabhq repo from Github
cd /Users/gitlab
sudo -u gitlab -H git clone /Users/gitlab/gitlab
cd /Users/gitlab/gitlab

# Checkout to 4-2-stable release
sudo -u gitlab -H git checkout 4-2-stable

We are using branch 4-2-stable because at the time of writing this is the branch I have working.

Configure Gitlab

cd /Users/gitlab/gitlab

# Copy the example GitLab config
sudo -u gitlab -H cp config/gitlab.yml.example config/gitlab.yml

# Make sure to change "localhost" to the fully-qualified domain name of your host serving GitLab where necessary
# IMPORTANT: Also update any paths from /home/ to /Users/
sudo -u gitlab -H vim config/gitlab.yml

# Make sure GitLab can write to the log/ and tmp/ directories
sudo chown -R gitlab log/
sudo chown -R gitlab tmp/
sudo chmod -R u+rwX  log/
sudo chmod -R u+rwX  tmp/

# Make directory for satellites
sudo -u gitlab -H mkdir /Users/gitlab/gitlab-satellites

# Copy the example Unicorn config
sudo -u gitlab -H cp config/unicorn.rb.example config/unicorn.rb

Configure Gitlab database settings

Since we're using MySQL we want to use the database.yml template for MySQL. Make sure to update username/password in config/database.yml. I hope you're keeping up!

cd /Users/gitlab/gitlab
sudo -u gitlab -H cp config/database.yml.mysql config/database.yml

# Update config with credentials from earlier when we setup MySQL. You only need to do the production group.
sudo -u gitlab -H vim config/database.yml

Install gems

Using Bundler we can install all the gems required by Gitlab, we will be installing the gems without the development, test and postgresql groups as we won't be needing those.

# Login as gitlab user
su - gitlab
cd ~/gitlab

# Please note the -- below is not a mistake
gem install charlock_holmes -- --version '0.6.9' --with-icu-dir=/usr/local/opt/icu4c

# Configure bundler to always use icu4c from Homebrew and install Gitlab gems
bundle config build.charlock_holmes --with-icu-dir=/usr/local/opt/icu4c
bundle install --deployment --without development test postgres

Configure Git

GitLab needs to be able to commit and push changes to Gitolite. In order to do that Git requires a username and email. (It's recommended to use the same address used for the email.from setting in config/gitlab.yml)

sudo -u gitlab -H git config --global "GitLab"
sudo -u gitlab -H git config --global "gitlab@localhost"

Setup GitLab Hooks

This will setup the custom hooks between Gitlab and Gitolite.

cd /Users/gitlab/gitlab

sudo cp ./lib/hooks/post-receive /Users/git/.gitolite/hooks/common/post-receive
sudo chown git:git /Users/git/.gitolite/hooks/common/post-receive

Initialise database and activate features

Now it's time to initialise the Gitlab database by running all the migrations and adding the first admin user. Make a note of the credentials it gives you at the end so you can login.

su - gitlab
cd ~/gitlab

bundle exec rake gitlab:setup RAILS_ENV=production

# Precompile the assets into the public directory
bundle exec rake assets:precompile RAILS_ENV=production

With that done run the following command to output and the environment info used by Gitlab so you check it all looks right for your machine.

bundle exec rake gitlab:env:info RAILS_ENV=production

Quick test

Let's skip ahead quickly a check out Gitlab! You won't be able to make any projects as Sidekiq is not running but it shows that all the work above has achieved something. Use the credentials from above to login.

# Still as the gitlab user
su - gitlab
cd ~/gitlab

# Start the rails WEBrick server
RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rails s

Open in your browser. Use ctrl + c to close the server once you've had a look. It will be quite slow initially as it is only intended as a development webserver.

Setting up Gitlab with Apache and Unicorn

Since OS X comes with Apache we will use that as our webserver to Gitlab. You can of course use Nginx if you desire but I will not be going over that option in this guide yet. Although I hope to go over that option in the future.

Configure Unicorn

Although not 100% compatible with Apache for various reasons, Unicorn will be responsible for processing the Gitlab application. We need to a make a few alterations to the config to make it "OS X friendly".

cd /Users/gitlab/gitlab

# Update: app_dir to /Users/ instead of /home/
# Uncomment: listen "" and change 8080 to 5000
# Comment: listen "#{app_dir}/tmp/sockets/gitlab.socket" as Apache cannot use sockets
sudo -u gitlab -H vim config/unicorn.rb

Unicorn needs to startup with the machine but we need to do some work with RVM. We need to make a wrapper around the bundle command so it can be used at bootup.

su - gitlab
rvm wrapper ruby-1.9.3-p392@gitlab bootup bundle

Now we can make a launchctl plist file. I've created these plists for you and saved them as a (gist)[] so you can grab that directly:

sudo curl --output /Library/LaunchDaemons/gitlab.unicorn.plist

# Load service with launchctl
sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/gitlab.unicorn.plist

Please note: Unicorn can take a few seconds to start up.

Configure Sidekiq

We also need Sidekiq to start up with the machine, thankfully the steps above have shortened some of the work we need to do now and we only need to create the plist as the bundle wrapper is already available. The plist command used below is an extraction from the rake task that should be used but it is not compatible with OS X.

sudo curl --output /Library/LaunchDaemons/gitlab.sidekiq.plist

# Load service with launchctl
sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/gitlab.sidekiq.plist

Configure Apache

In Mountain Lion Apple decided to remove the web sharing option from the System Preferences panel but Apache is still there so it just means we need to start it via terminal.

sudo apachectl start

We need to tell Apache about Gitlab by creating a configuration for it. Thankfully Apache on OS X loads in all .conf files in the /etc/apache2/other/ directory so we can create a file in there to avoid tampering with the main config, this is also easier to manage.

sudo curl --output /etc/apache2/other/gitlab.conf

# Change ServerName to your machine hostname
sudo vim /etc/apache2/other/gitlab.conf

# Restart Apache 
sudo apachectl restart

OS X Server People You can use the to setup a new VirtualHost and Allow Overrides. You can then edit the generated configuration file as required to match the gist.

Now you can open http://my-hostname.local in your browser and you should be greeted by the Gitlab login screen. Again use the details from earlier:

Important Note: This user should be disabled or deleted once you have got some real users in place with administrator privileges.


If all this is too much for you I recommend checking out the GitLab paid service. Huge thanks to the GitLab Team and all the contributors.

Found a typo or a part of this guide not working? Let me know @createdbypete