Summary and Setup

GitLab is a web application for managing Git repositories. Since it is build around Git, it is suitable to manage any project that mostly works with plain text files, for example software source code or TeX based documents. With its built-in issue and wiki systems, it can, in certain cases, even be the right tool for managing a project without any files.

This lesson will give you a foundational understanding of GitLab’s features, so that you can make informed decisions on how to use it as a tool.

Since GitLab interprets many of its text fields’ values as Markdown, more specifically GitLab flavored Markdown, this lesson contains a rudimentary introduction to Markdown syntax, following the CommonMark specification on which the GitLab flavor is based.

Required Previous Knowledge

GitLab is mainly a platform for Git repositories. So a major part of this lesson requires a basic familiarity with Git. To understand the material on GitLab’s continuous integration (CI) feature you need to know your way around the shell and it might help to have the most basic understanding of how to use Docker. Knowledge on how to create and edit text files is also assumed.


To follow the lesson, you need to have a text editor and Git installed. You also need access to to GitLab.

The following sections provide information on how to install the required software, if necessary, and how you get access to GitLab.

Software Setup

See for how to install or find a text editor on your machine.

See for how to install or find Git on your machine.


You can create a free GitLab account on GitLabSignUp. If you already have an account, please make sure that you know you account credentials and can sign in.

Note that for a specific course, you might work on another GitLab instance. In that case you should follow the instructions given by the organizers.