Gitlab Basics

What is Gitlab?

Gitlab is a service managed by CCI for collaboration and versioning of small project files, especially for source code. It is available to all CCI students, faculty and staff. 

Logging in

To log into Gitlab, visit in your web browser of choice, and select the Sign in with DrexelConnect login method. 

Gitlab sign-in

Once logged in, you should be directed to your Projects page. This will be empty to begin with, but as you create projects they will become available here.

Installing Git client

Windows: Visit Installing Git client on Windows

Linux: Use your distro's package manager to install git, eg. yum install git or apt-get install git.

macOS: open the Terminal from Applications > Utilities and run the command git --version. macOS will prompt you to install the command line development tools if they're not installed yet.

Configuring SSH key authentication

SSH key-based authentication is the most secure and recommended way of connecting to Gitlab from all Git clients. 

First, you'll need to create an SSH key for your computer. First, launch your terminal as follows:

Windows: open the Start menu and open "Git Bash" from the "Git" program group (Git must be installed following the earlier instructions first)

macOS: open from Applications > Utilities

Linux: Log into a server over SSH, or find the terminal app for your distribution from the app launcher from your distribution.

Once you have a command line open, run the command ssh-keygen and follow the prompts. You should accept the default location for the key by pressing the Enter or Return key. For increased security, you can also provide a password, which will be required each time you log into Git; leave the prompt empty and press the Enter or Return key to avoid setting a password.

Next, we need to copy the public key for your SSH key pair to add it to our project in Gitlab. This can be retrieved by running the command cat .ssh/ from your home folder:

Select this string of text with the mouse, and copy:

Windows (Git Bash): select text, right click, and choose "Copy"

Windows (PuTTY): Select text and it will automatically be copied to the clipboard

Windows (CMD/PowerShell): Select text and press the Enter key to copy to the clipboard

Mac: select text and use command-c to copy the text

Linux: This depends on how you're connected to Linux. Linux GUI terminals will differ, but generally you can select text and use the Edit menu to copy the text. If you're connected by SSH, use the method above for the client you're connecting from.

Add the key to Gitlab:

Next, log into the Gitlab web interface. When you log in, you should see a menu in the top right of the screen. Click this menu and choose "Settings" to get to your Settings page.

From the Settings page, click the first key icon which has a label of "SSH Keys"

In the window that opens, you can paste your SSH key and give it a description. Click "Add key" and you should be ready to use SSH key-based authentication with your Gitlab account.


Creating a Project

Once you've configured your computer to access Gitlab, you'll need to set up a project to store your files. First, log into the Gitlab web interface, and you should start at your Projects page. Click "New project" to open the New Project page.

On the new project page, you must set a name for your project. The project URL will be automatically generated, as will the "project slug". You can also set a description, and should choose the appropriate security level for your project. Private projects will only allow access to yourself and users you specifically choose. Internal projects can be seen by anyone who logs into Gitlab. Public projects can be seen by everyone. You can also choose to include a README file, which will keep you from getting a warning when you clone an empty project.

Cloning a Project

Cloning a project creates a copy of the files associated with it on your local computer. To clone the repository, visit your project in your Web browser and click the "Clone" drop-down button. From the options that come up, copy the string under "Clone with SSH" into your clipboard, and follow the Mac, Linux, or Windows instructions below.

Open the terminal application you used to generate an SSH key earlier, and use the cd command to move to the folder where you want your project to be stored. Run the command git clone followed by the string of text you copied from the Gitlab window earlier, and press Return or Enter. Your computer may ask if it's okay to connect to Gitlab if you haven't connected before - accept the SSH host key and your project repository should be copied to your local machine.

Adding Files to a Project

Within the Terminal application you used earlier, use cd to move to your project folder. Create a new file in this folder using any application, in my example below I used the Vim text editor. Once the file is saved, you can run ls to ensure that the file is there. To tell Git to track your file, run the command git add followed by the name of your file. You can then run the command git commit -a to commit your changes, and git push to upload the changes to the Gitlab server. Future changes can be uploaded to Gitlab by running the commands git commit -a  and git push again.

Getting updated files from Gitlab 

Within the Terminal application you used earlier, use cd to move to your project folder. Run the command git pull to retrieve the latest changes from the Gitlab server. If you've made any changes locally, you should first run the commands git commit -a  and git push to ensure that Gitlab is up to date and in sync with all changes.