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GitLab vs Gitolite: What are the differences?

What is GitLab? Open source self-hosted Git management software. GitLab offers git repository management, code reviews, issue tracking, activity feeds and wikis. Enterprises install GitLab on-premise and connect it with LDAP and Active Directory servers for secure authentication and authorization. A single GitLab server can handle more than 25,000 users but it is also possible to create a high availability setup with multiple active servers.

What is Gitolite? Setup git hosting on a central server, with fine-grained access control. Gitolite allows you to setup git hosting on a central server, with fine-grained access control and many more powerful features. Gitolite is an access control layer on top of git.

GitLab and Gitolite can be categorized as "Code Collaboration & Version Control" tools.

Some of the features offered by GitLab are:

  • Manage git repositories with fine grained access controls that keep your code secure
  • Perform code reviews and enhance collaboration with merge requests
  • Each project can also have an issue tracker and a wiki

On the other hand, Gitolite provides the following key features:

  • Use a single unix user ("real" user) on the server.
  • Provide access to many gitolite users: they are not "real" users, so they do not get shell access.
  • Control access to many git repositories: read access controlled at the repo level, and write access controlled at the branch/tag/file/directory level, including who can rewind, create, and delete branches/tags.

"Self hosted" is the top reason why over 451 developers like GitLab, while over 4 developers mention "Easy setup" as the leading cause for choosing Gitolite.

GitLab and Gitolite are both open source tools. GitLab with 20.1K GitHub stars and 5.33K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Gitolite with 7.45K GitHub stars and 961 GitHub forks.

Advice on GitLab and Gitolite
Matanel Crown
Software Developer at BBT.live · | 7 upvotes · 52.3K views

Hi all,

I would like some information regarding the benefits an aspiring start-up company may have, while using GitHub Enterprise vs the regular GitHub package. On a separate issue, I'd like to understand whether GitLab may have some DevOps-related advantages GitHub does not.

Thank you in advance, Matt

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Replies (5)
Luke Carr
Founder & CEO at Moducate · | 7 upvotes · 44.6K views

I'd lean towards GitHub (either billing plan) for one key reason that is often overlooked (we certainly did!).

If you're planning on creating OSS repositories under your start-up's name/brand, people will naturally expect to find the public repositories on GitHub. Not on GitLab, or Bitbucket, or a self-hosted Gitea, but on GitHub.

Personally, I find it simpler to have all of the repositories (public and private) under one organisation and on one platform, so for this reason, I think that GitHub is the best choice.

On the DevOps side, GitLab is far superior to GitHub (from my experience using both GitHub Enterprise and GitLab Ultimate), but for the one aforementioned, we're using GitHub at Moducate.

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Recommends
GitLab

Advantages for Github Enterprise is that you get more storage, CI minutes, advanced security features, and premium support. If you don't really need any of those, you can stick with Github Team. Though if you're going to use Gitlab CI, I suggest going with Gitlab instead of Github so you won't have to maintain 2 repositories.

Regarding the advantages that Gitlab CI has over Github, there's a detailed explanation here: https://about.gitlab.com/devops-tools/github-vs-gitlab/ci-missing-github-capabilities/

If you need more minutes for Gitlab CI, you can always use your own Gitlab CI runners instead of the shared runners: https://docs.gitlab.com/runner/register/

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Brandon Miller

With the advent of Gitlab actions/workflows, it's hard to not choose Github anymore. I say that with all love for Gitlab, as it's been my personal tool of choice for a long time because of it's inbuilt CI/CD solutions. Github is just all around more adopted by the community so you'll always find more support; and if you go with enterprise you will get 50k build minutes a month as well as a ton of extra tools that will definitely help a startup out from the get-go. That being said, it's priced at $21 per user, per month so if you cannot afford that, I say go with Github.

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Evgeny Rahman
Full Stack Solution Architect · | 3 upvotes · 13.7K views
Recommends

GitHub Enterprise comes with included SAML SSO support, and a huge free tier for Actions and Packages, which gives your team everything they need to get off to a great start and scale up without hitting any roadblocks along the way. An important point to consider is that GitHub Enterprise comes in both self-hosted and cloud-hosted variations, so you don't need to manage your own infrastructure for it unless you would prefer to.

With GitHub Enterprise, you also plug in to the largest development community in the world, and can collaborate directly on the open source projects that are probably already part of your stack. You can also access the latest and greatest in development tools such as GitHub Codespaces, GitHub Co-Pilot, and much much more, with great new features being shipped every day.

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Recommends
GitLab

GitHub is trying to catch up with GitLab. GitLab was built from the ground up with DevOps tooling. GitHub is years away on features.

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Decisions about GitLab and Gitolite
Eduardo Fernandez
Software Engineer at Parrot Software, Inc. · | 7 upvotes · 58.4K views

Do you have a K8s cluster and you want to deploy some services to it? Gitlab Auto Devops is key to achieve this without breaking a sweat.

We deploy Go services to our K8S clusters with warp speed thanks to Gitlab and it's Auto Devops pipeline.

I haven't seen tooling like this in any other git cloud provider.

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Phillip Manwaring
Developer at Coach Align · | 16 upvotes · 82.3K views

Both of us are far more familiar with GitHub than Gitlab, and so for our first big project together decided to go with what we know here instead of figuring out something new (there are so many new things we need to figure out, might as well reduce the number of optionally new things, lol). We aren't currently taking advantage of GitHub Actions or very many other built-in features (besides Dependabot) but luckily it integrates very well with the other services we're using.

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Elmar Wouters
CEO, Managing Director at Wouters Media · | 7 upvotes · 177.9K views

I first used BitBucket because it had private repo's, and it didn't disappoint me. Also with the smooth integration of Jira, the decision to use BitBucket as a full application maintenance service was as easy as 1, 2, 3.

I honestly love BitBucket, by the looks, by the UI, and the smooth integration with Tower.

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Weverton Timoteo

Do you review your Pull/Merge Request before assigning Reviewers?

If you work in a team opening a Pull Request (or Merge Request) looks appropriate. However, have you ever thought about opening a Pull/Merge Request when working by yourself? Here's a checklist of things you can review in your own:

  • Pick the correct target branch
  • Make Drafts explicit
  • Name things properly
  • Ask help for tools
  • Remove the noise
  • Fetch necessary data
  • Understand Mergeability
  • Pass the message
  • Add screenshots
  • Be found in the future
  • Comment inline in your changes

Read the blog post for more detailed explanation for each item :D

What else do you review before asking for code review?

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Weverton Timoteo

Using an inclusive language is crucial for fostering a diverse culture. Git has changed the naming conventions to be more language-inclusive, and so you should change. Our development tools, like GitHub and GitLab, already supports the change.

SourceLevel deals very nicely with repositories that changed the master branch to a more appropriate word. Besides, you can use the grep linter the look for exclusive terms contained in the source code.

As the inclusive language gap may happen in other aspects of our lives, have you already thought about them?

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Weverton Timoteo

One of the magic tricks git performs is the ability to rewrite log history. You can do it in many ways, but git rebase -i is the one I most use. With this command, It’s possible to switch commits order, remove a commit, squash two or more commits, or edit, for instance.

It’s particularly useful to run it before opening a pull request. It allows developers to “clean up” the mess and organize commits before submitting to review. If you follow the practice 3 and 4, then the list of commits should look very similar to a task list. It should reveal the rationale you had, telling the story of how you end up with that final code.

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Kamaleshwar BN
Head of Engineering at Dibiz Pte. Ltd. · | 8 upvotes · 306.8K views

Out of most of the VCS solutions out there, we found Gitlab was the most feature complete with a free community edition. Their DevSecops offering is also a very robust solution. Gitlab CI/CD was quite easy to setup and the direct integration with your VCS + CI/CD is also a bonus. Out of the box integration with major cloud providers, alerting through instant messages etc. are all extremely convenient. We push our CI/CD updates to MS Teams.

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Gitlab as A LOT of features that GitHub and Azure DevOps are missing. Even if both GH and Azure are backed by Microsoft, GitLab being open source has a faster upgrade rate and the hosted by gitlab.com solution seems more appealing than anything else! Quick win: the UI is way better and the Pipeline is way easier to setup on GitLab!

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Nazar Atamaniuk
Shared insights
on
DeployPlace
GitHub
GitLab

At DeployPlace we use self-hosted GitLab, we have chosen GitLab as most of us are familiar with it. We are happy with all features GitLab provides, I can’t imagine our life without integrated GitLab CI. Another important feature for us is integrated code review tool, we use it every day, we use merge requests, code reviews, branching. To be honest, most of us have GitHub accounts as well, we like to contribute in open source, and we want to be a part of the tech community, but lack of solutions from GitHub in the area of CI doesn’t let us chose it for our projects.

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Pros of GitLab
Pros of Gitolite
  • 490
    Self hosted
  • 419
    Free
  • 333
    Has community edition
  • 237
    Familiar interface
  • 237
    Easy setup
  • 130
    Includes many features, including ci
  • 106
    Nice UI
  • 80
    Good integration with gitlabci
  • 52
    Simple setup
  • 32
    Has an official mobile app
  • 30
    Free private repository
  • 25
    Continuous Integration
  • 18
    Open source, great ui (like github)
  • 14
    Slack Integration
  • 10
    Full CI flow
  • 9
    Free and unlimited private git repos
  • 8
    User, group, and project access management is simple
  • 7
    All in one (Git, CI, Agile..)
  • 7
    Intuitive UI
  • 7
    Built-in CI
  • 4
    Both public and private Repositories
  • 3
    Mattermost Chat client
  • 3
    Issue system
  • 3
    Integrated Docker Registry
  • 2
    I like the its runners and executors feature
  • 2
    Unlimited free repos & collaborators
  • 2
    One-click install through DigitalOcean
  • 2
    It's powerful source code management tool
  • 2
    CI
  • 2
    Free private repos
  • 2
    Excellent
  • 2
    Build/pipeline definition alongside code
  • 2
    On-premises
  • 2
    Security and Stable
  • 2
    So easy to use
  • 2
    Great for team collaboration
  • 2
    Low maintenance cost due omnibus-deployment
  • 2
    It's fully integrated
  • 1
    Many private repo
  • 1
    Published IP list for whitelisting (gl-infra#434)
  • 1
    Powerful Continuous Integration System
  • 1
    Kubernetes Integration
  • 1
    Kubernetes integration with GitLab CI
  • 1
    Review Apps feature
  • 1
    Built-in Docker Registry
  • 1
    The dashboard with deployed environments
  • 1
    Multilingual interface
  • 1
    Native CI
  • 1
    HipChat intergration
  • 1
    It includes everything I need, all packaged with docker
  • 1
    Powerful software planning and maintaining tools
  • 1
    Groups of groups
  • 1
    Dockerized
  • 1
    Beautiful
  • 1
    Wounderful
  • 1
    Opensource
  • 1
    Because is the best remote host for git repositories
  • 1
    Not Microsoft Owned
  • 1
    Full DevOps suite with Git
  • 0
    Supports Radius/Ldap & Browser Code Edits
  • 5
    Easy setup
  • 4
    Fine-tuned per-branch permissions
  • 1
    Really easy setup
  • 1
    Free
  • 1
    Free multi-server mirroring

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Cons of GitLab
Cons of Gitolite
  • 26
    Slow ui performance
  • 6
    Introduce breaking bugs every release
  • 5
    Insecure (no published IP list for whitelisting)
  • 1
    Built-in Docker Registry
  • 0
    Review Apps feature
  • 1
    Doesn't have any user interface
  • 1
    Antiquated
  • 1
    No tools for project and issue tracker

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What is GitLab?

GitLab offers git repository management, code reviews, issue tracking, activity feeds and wikis. Enterprises install GitLab on-premise and connect it with LDAP and Active Directory servers for secure authentication and authorization. A single GitLab server can handle more than 25,000 users but it is also possible to create a high availability setup with multiple active servers.

What is Gitolite?

Gitolite allows you to setup git hosting on a central server, with fine-grained access control and many more powerful features. Gitolite is an access control layer on top of git.

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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What companies use Gitolite?
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What are some alternatives to GitLab and Gitolite?
GitHub
GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.
Bitbucket
Bitbucket gives teams one place to plan projects, collaborate on code, test and deploy, all with free private Git repositories. Teams choose Bitbucket because it has a superior Jira integration, built-in CI/CD, & is free for up to 5 users.
Jenkins
In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
Gogs
The goal of this project is to make the easiest, fastest and most painless way to set up a self-hosted Git service. With Go, this can be done in independent binary distribution across ALL platforms that Go supports, including Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.
Git
Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.
See all alternatives