The GitLab Operator is under active development and is not yet suitable for production use. See our Minimal to Viable Epic for more information.

This document describes how to deploy the GitLab Operator via manifests in your Kubernetes or OpenShift cluster.

If using OpenShift, these steps normally are handled by OLM (the Operator Lifecycle Manager) once an operator is bundle published. However, to test the most recent operator images, users may need to install the operator using the deployment manifests available in the operator repository.


  1. Create or use an existing Kubernetes or OpenShift cluster
  2. Install pre-requisite services and software
  3. Configure Domain Name Services



To create a traditional Kubernetes cluster, consider using official tooling or your preferred method of installation.

GitLab Operator supports Kubernetes 1.19 through 1.22, and is tested against 1.21 and 1.22 in CI.


To create an OpenShift cluster, see the OpenShift cluster setup docs for an example of how to create a development environment.

GitLab Operator supports OpenShift 4.8 through 4.10, and is tested against 4.8 and 4.9 in CI.

Ingress controller

An Ingress controller is required to provide external access to the application and secure communication between components.

The GitLab Operator will deploy our forked NGINX chart from the GitLab Helm Chart by default.

If you prefer to use an external Ingress controller, we recommend NGINX Ingress by the Kubernetes community to deploy an Ingress Controller. Follow the relevant instructions in the link based on your platform and preferred tooling. Take note of the Ingress class value for later (it typically defaults to nginx). When configuring the GitLab CR, be sure to set nginx-ingress.enabled=false to disable the NGINX objects from the GitLab Helm Chart.

TLS certificates

We recommend Cert Manager to create certificates used to secure the GitLab and Registry URLs. Follow the relevant instructions in the link based on your platform and preferred tooling.

Our codebase currently targets Cert Manager 1.6.1.

Cert Manager 1.6 removed some deprecated APIs. As a result, if deploying Cert Manager >= 1.6, you will need GitLab Operator >= 0.4.



Install the metrics server so the HorizontalPodAutoscalers can retrieve pod metrics.


OpenShift ships with Prometheus Adapter by default, so there is no manual action required here.

Configure Domain Name Services

You will need an internet-accessible domain to which you can add a DNS record.

See our networking and DNS documentation for more details on connecting your domain to the GitLab components. You will use the configuration mentioned in this section when defining your GitLab custom resource (CR).

Ingress in OpenShift requires extra consideration. See our notes on OpenShift Ingress for more information.

Installing the GitLab Operator

  1. Deploy the GitLab Operator.

    PLATFORM=kubernetes # or "openshift"
    kubectl create namespace gitlab-system
    kubectl apply -f${GL_OPERATOR_VERSION}/gitlab-operator-${PLATFORM}-${GL_OPERATOR_VERSION}.yaml

    This command first deploys the service accounts, roles and role bindings used by the operator, and then the operator itself.

    By default, the Operator will only watch the namespace where it is deployed. If you’d like it to watch at the cluster scope, then remove the WATCH_NAMESPACE environment variable from the Deployment in the manifest under: spec.template.spec.containers[0].env and re-run the kubectl apply command above.

    Running the Operator at the cluster scope is considered experimental. See issue #100 for more information.

    Experimental: Alternatively, deploy the GitLab Operator via Helm.

    helm repo add gitlab-operator
    helm repo update
    helm install gitlab-operator gitlab-operator/gitlab-operator --create-namespace --namespace gitlab-system
  2. Create a GitLab custom resource (CR).

    Create a new file named something like mygitlab.yaml.

    Here is an example of the content to put in this file:

    kind: GitLab
      name: gitlab
        version: "X.Y.Z" #
              domain: # use a real domain here
              configureCertmanager: true
            email: # use your real email address here

    For more details on configuration options to use under spec.chart.values, see the GitLab Helm Chart documentation.

  3. Deploy a GitLab instance using your new GitLab CR.

    kubectl -n gitlab-system apply -f mygitlab.yaml

    This command sends your GitLab CR up to the cluster for the GitLab Operator to reconcile. You can watch the progress by tailing the logs from the controller pod:

    kubectl -n gitlab-system logs deployment/gitlab-controller-manager -c manager -f

    You can also list GitLab resources and check their status:

    $ kubectl -n gitlab-system get gitlab
    gitlab   Ready    5.2.4

When the CR is reconciled (the status of the GitLab resource will be Running), you can access GitLab in your browser at

Uninstall the GitLab Operator

Follow the steps below to remove the GitLab Operator and its associated resources.

Items to note prior to uninstalling the operator:

  • The operator does not delete the Persistent Volume Claims or Secrets when a GitLab instance is deleted.
  • When deleting the Operator, the namespace where it is installed (gitlab-system by default) will not be deleted automatically. This is to ensure persistent volumes are not lost unintentionally.

Uninstall an instance of GitLab

kubectl -n gitlab-system delete -f mygitlab.yaml

This will remove the GitLab instance, and all associated objects except for (PVCs as noted above).

Uninstall the GitLab Operator

PLATFORM=kubernetes # or "openshift"
kubectl delete -f${GL_OPERATOR_VERSION}/gitlab-operator-${PLATFORM}-${GL_OPERATOR_VERSION}.yaml

This will delete the Operator’s resources, including the running Deployment of the Operator. This will not delete objects associated with a GitLab instance.

Troubleshoot the GitLab Operator

Troubleshooting the Operator can be found in