How to Restart a GitLab Runner: A Step-by-Step Guide

GitLab Runner is an essential component in the GitLab CI/CD ecosystem, responsible for running jobs and sending results back to GitLab. This guide provides a comprehensive step-by-step approach to restarting a GitLab Runner, ensuring that developers and system administrators can maintain continuous integration and delivery workflows efficiently. The guide covers understanding GitLab Runner, its installation, registration, configuration, and the intricacies of restarting it, troubleshooting, securing, maintaining, and upgrading your runner.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • GitLab Runner is a core service that integrates with GitLab CI/CD for executing jobs and is a crucial part of the continuous integration pipeline.
  • Restarting a GitLab Runner involves understanding when a restart is necessary, using the command line, and potentially automating the process.
  • Secure installation and registration of GitLab Runner are imperative, with careful consideration of the system requirements and executor types.
  • Troubleshooting common issues requires diagnosing runner failures, resolving executor-specific problems, and handling registration errors.
  • Maintaining and upgrading GitLab Runner is essential for security and performance, involving routine maintenance tasks and timely updates.

Understanding GitLab Runner and Its Components

Understanding GitLab Runner and Its Components

Overview of GitLab Runner

At the heart of GitLab’s CI/CD process lies the GitLab Runner, a powerful yet flexible tool that plays a pivotal role in automating your software development workflows. It’s an open-source lightweight agent that seamlessly integrates with GitLab, capable of running jobs and sending results back to the platform. The Runner supports various execution modes and can operate across multiple platforms, making it a versatile choice for developers.

GitLab Runner is designed to work in conjunction with GitLab CI/CD, the open-source continuous integration service included with GitLab. This service coordinates the testing and deployment processes, ensuring that your code is always ready for production. Before a Runner can start processing jobs, it must be registered with your GitLab instance. There are two main types of runners:

  • Shared Runner: Available to all projects on a self-managed GitLab instance and typically registered by an administrator.
  • Specific Runner: Dedicated to individual projects or groups, offering more control over the jobs it runs.

Remember, a well-configured GitLab Runner can significantly streamline your CI/CD pipeline, reducing the time from development to deployment.

GitLab CI/CD Integration

Integrating GitLab Runner with GitLab’s CI/CD framework is a cornerstone for automating the software development process. GitLab Runner automates development workflow, ensures code quality, and streamlines deployment, making it an indispensable tool for developers. With GitLab, you gain access to a suite of features that support continuous integration, continuous deployment, and continuous delivery.

GitLab offers project visibility control, issue tracking, and CI/CD capabilities that are essential for efficient software delivery. These features are not just about automation; they also provide a collaborative platform for teams to build, test, and deploy their applications with confidence.

By leveraging GitLab Runner within the CI/CD pipeline, teams can execute jobs on multiple machines, under various environments, and with different runners simultaneously.

Here’s a quick overview of the CI/CD process stages in GitLab:

  • Requirements: Define what needs to be done.
  • Stages: Break down the process into stages such as build, test, and deploy.
  • Customize: Tailor the pipeline to fit the project’s needs.
  • CI/CD variables: Use variables to manage environment-specific settings.
  • Troubleshooting: Address any issues that arise during the pipeline execution.

Components of GitLab Runner

The GitLab Runner is a core service that executes jobs and communicates the results back to GitLab. It’s a crucial component of the GitLab CI/CD pipeline, ensuring that the code commits are automatically built, tested, and deployed. Understanding the components of GitLab Runner is essential for effective CI/CD integration and troubleshooting.

The main components include the Runner itself, which is the application that processes jobs; the Executor, which defines how jobs are executed; and the GitLab Shell, which handles git commands for the Runner. Each component plays a specific role in the CI/CD process, and configuring them correctly is key to a smooth operation.

  • Runner: The application that processes jobs.
  • Executor: Defines how jobs are executed, with multiple types available.
  • GitLab Shell: Handles git commands for the Runner.

It’s important to choose the right executor to match your project’s needs, as it directly impacts the efficiency and reliability of your CI/CD pipeline.

For a detailed description of runner installations and executor types, refer to the official GitLab documentation. This will provide you with practical examples of migrating CI/CD templates and pipeline configuration into reusable components, enhancing your CI/CD practices.

Preparing for GitLab Runner Installation

Preparing for GitLab Runner Installation

System Requirements

Before installing GitLab Runner, it’s crucial to ensure your system meets the necessary requirements. GitLab Runner is compatible with several operating systems, but for the best performance and compatibility, it’s recommended to use a recent version of a mainstream Linux distribution such as Ubuntu, CentOS, or Debian.

Supported Operating Systems:

  • Ubuntu (recommended: 20.04 LTS or later)
  • CentOS (recommended: 7 or later)
  • Debian (recommended: 10 or later)

Additionally, your system should have sufficient resources to handle the workload you plan to assign to the runner. The following are the minimum requirements:

Resource Minimum Requirement
CPU 1 core
Memory 512 MB
Storage 20 GB

Ensure that your system also has network connectivity to the GitLab server and that any required firewalls or security groups are configured to allow traffic as needed.

Remember, these are just the minimum requirements; depending on the complexity and volume of your CI/CD jobs, you may need to scale these resources up.

Choosing the Right Executor

Selecting the appropriate executor for your GitLab Runner is crucial for achieving optimal performance and efficiency. Each executor type offers different capabilities and is suited for specific use cases. For instance, the shell executor is straightforward to set up and ideal for jobs that require tools installed directly on the host. However, when using the shell executor on Windows, be aware that the default shell is pwsh, which may not be present on all systems.

Here’s a quick overview of some common executors:

  • Docker: Isolates jobs in containers, offering a clean environment for each job run.
  • Shell: Executes jobs directly on the host machine, requiring all dependencies to be installed on the host.
  • Kubernetes: Manages jobs in a Kubernetes cluster, providing scalability and efficient resource utilization.
  • SSH: Connects to remote servers to execute jobs, useful for deployment tasks.

It’s important to consider the nature of your CI/CD tasks when choosing an executor. Some tasks may benefit from the reproducibility and isolation provided by Docker, while others might require the performance and accessibility of a shell executor.

Remember to review the official GitLab documentation for a comprehensive list of supported executors and their specific advantages. This will guide you in installing and configuring your GitLab Runner to meet your project’s needs effectively.

Setting Up the Environment

Before diving into the installation of GitLab Runner, it’s crucial to set up your environment properly. Ensure that all necessary dependencies are installed and that your system meets the requirements for running GitLab Runner. Different Linux distributions may have specific methods for defining global environment variables; for instance, Ubuntu utilizes the /etc/environment file. Consult your distribution’s documentation for detailed instructions.

To streamline the setup process, follow these general steps:

  1. Install the dependencies required by GitLab.
  2. Adjust the firewall rules to allow GitLab services.
  3. Edit the GitLab configuration file to suit your setup.
  4. Perform initial configuration through the web interface.
  5. Restrict or disable public sign-ups as needed for security.

Remember, setting up the environment is not just about installation, but also about configuring your system to work seamlessly with GitLab Runner.

After completing these steps, you’ll be ready to proceed with the installation of GitLab Runner. This preparation ensures a smoother installation process and helps avoid common pitfalls that could arise during setup.

Installing GitLab Runner on Linux

Installing GitLab Runner on Linux

Adding the Official GitLab Repository

Before installing GitLab Runner on your Linux system, you need to add the official GitLab package repository. This ensures you receive updates directly from GitLab and have access to the latest features and security patches. To add the repository, run the following command in your terminal:

curl | sudo bash

This step is crucial for maintaining the integrity and reliability of your GitLab Runner installation. By using the official sources, you also prepare your system for a seamless integration with GitLab Ultimate and other GitLab offerings.

Remember, it’s important to keep your system’s package list up-to-date. After adding the GitLab repository, always run sudo apt-get update to refresh your package database.

Once the repository is added, you’re ready to proceed with the actual installation of GitLab Runner. Follow the subsequent steps carefully to avoid common pitfalls and ensure a successful setup.

Installing from Linux Package

After adding the official GitLab repository to your system, you’re ready to install the GitLab Runner. Ensure all necessary dependencies are installed before proceeding with the GitLab Runner installation. For Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu, you can use the following commands:

  1. Update your system’s package index:
    sudo apt-get update
  2. Install the required dependencies:
    sudo apt-get install -y curl openssh-server ca-certificates tzdata perl

Once the dependencies are in place, install GitLab Runner using the package manager:

  • For Debian/Ubuntu:
    sudo apt-get install gitlab-runner

Remember to verify the integrity of the script before executing it to maintain the security of your system.

The installation process will configure your system to use the GitLab maintained repositories, allowing you to manage GitLab Runner with the same package management tools as your other system packages.

Post-Installation Steps

Once GitLab Runner is installed, it’s crucial to perform a few post-installation steps to ensure it operates smoothly. Verify the installation by checking the Runner’s status. This can be done with a simple command: gitlab-runner status. If the service is running, you’ll receive a confirmation message.

Next, consider setting up a firewall to protect your Runner. Depending on your system, you might need to adjust firewall settings to allow traffic on specific ports used by GitLab Runner. Here’s a basic example for common firewall management:

  • For UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall):
    • sudo ufw allow http
    • sudo ufw allow https
  • For firewalld:
    • sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=http
    • sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=https
    • sudo firewall-cmd --reload

Remember to replace http and https with the actual ports your GitLab Runner uses if they differ from the standard web ports.

Lastly, review the Runner’s configuration file to tailor it to your environment. This file, typically located at /etc/gitlab-runner/config.toml, contains various settings that dictate how the Runner behaves. Adjustments here can optimize performance and compatibility with your specific CI/CD workflow.

Registering Your GitLab Runner

Registering Your GitLab Runner

Obtaining the Registration Token

Before you can register your GitLab Runner, you’ll need to obtain a registration token. This token is crucial for the runner to authenticate with your GitLab instance. To get this token, navigate to your project’s settings in GitLab, then to the CI/CD section, and expand the Runners settings. Here, you’ll find the registration token under the ‘Set up a specific Runner manually’ section.

Remember to write down the token value immediately, as it’s required for the registration command. If you’re using Kubernetes or OpenShift, be aware that the runner-registration-token parameter is deprecated and will be removed in future GitLab versions. Instead, authentication tokens will be used to register runners.

It’s important to note that the support for runner registration tokens is deprecated and will be removed in GitLab 18.0. Make sure to follow the new runner registration workflow to avoid any disruptions.

If you encounter any issues, such as a missing auth token, check the config.toml file for the runner authentication token, which should have the prefix glrt-. If the token isn’t there, you’ll need to revisit the token generation step or consult the GitLab documentation for troubleshooting.

Running the Registration Command

Once you have your registration token, it’s time to register your GitLab Runner with your GitLab instance. Execute the gitlab-runner register command in your terminal. This command will prompt you to enter details such as the GitLab instance URL and the registration token you’ve obtained earlier.

Ensure that you choose the correct executor for your setup. This is crucial for the runner to execute your CI/CD jobs effectively.

Verify the runner’s registration by checking the output for a confirmation message. If successful, the runner will now be listed in your project’s settings under the CI/CD section. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps:

  1. Open your terminal or command prompt.
  2. Navigate to the GitLab Runner installation directory.
  3. Run the gitlab-runner register command.
  4. Follow the interactive prompts to complete registration.

Remember to write down the token value after creating the runner, as it will be required during the registration process.

Verifying Runner Configuration

Once you’ve registered your GitLab Runner, it’s crucial to verify that it’s configured correctly to handle your CI/CD jobs. Ensure that the runner appears in your project’s settings under the CI/CD section; this confirms that it’s ready to process jobs. To check the runner’s status, you can use the gitlab-runner status command, which should return a message indicating that the runner is running.

After registration, the config.toml file holds the key settings for your runner. Review this file to confirm that the executor type, URL, and token match what you’ve entered during registration. Here’s a quick checklist to help you verify the configuration:

  • Runner is listed in the project’s CI/CD settings
  • config.toml contains the correct URL and token
  • Executor type is set as intended
  • Default Docker image is specified (if using Docker executor)

Remember, a properly configured runner is essential for the smooth execution of your CI/CD pipeline. Take the time to double-check these settings to avoid future issues.

If you encounter any discrepancies or issues, refer to the GitLab documentation or the Runner Core category direction for guidance on easy configuration. Keeping your runner well-configured ensures that your CI/CD processes are efficient and reliable.

Configuring GitLab Runner

Configuring GitLab Runner

Editing the Configuration File

After installing GitLab Runner, the next crucial step is to configure it properly. The main configuration file for GitLab Runner is /etc/gitlab-runner/config.toml. Editing this file allows you to customize the runner to fit your specific needs. For instance, you can define the executor type, specify the Docker image to use, or set up environment variables.

To edit the configuration file, use your preferred text editor. Here’s a simple example of how to adjust the concurrency settings:

concurrency = 4
check_interval = 0

Remember to save your changes and restart the GitLab Runner for them to take effect. If you’re using GitLab Premium, you might have access to additional configuration options that can enhance your CI/CD pipeline’s performance.

It’s important to ensure that the user and group ownership of the GitLab Runner directories are correctly set. Incorrect permissions can lead to unexpected behavior or even security vulnerabilities.

Finally, always verify your changes by running gitlab-runner verify to catch any potential issues before they affect your builds.

Setting Up Executors

Choosing the right executor for your GitLab Runner is crucial for optimal performance and efficiency. Each executor type has its own set of advantages and is suited for specific use cases. For instance, the shell executor is straightforward to set up and ideal for jobs that require tools installed directly on the host.

However, when selecting an executor, consider the compatibility with your environment. For example, the shell executor on Windows might require additional setup due to the default pwsh shell, which may not be present.

Here’s a list of commonly used executors and their typical applications:

  • Shell: Simple setup; best for tools on the host.
  • Docker: Isolation of jobs; requires Docker installed.
  • Kubernetes: For projects that deploy to Kubernetes.
  • SSH: For running jobs on remote servers.
  • VirtualBox/Parallels: For jobs that need specific OS environments.

Remember to review the official GitLab documentation for detailed information on each executor and best practices for configuration.

Applying Advanced Configuration Options

Once you’ve covered the basics of configuring your GitLab Runner, it’s time to delve into advanced options that can significantly enhance your CI/CD pipelines. Configuring GitLab Runner for optimal performance involves setting resource limits and ensuring security with HTTPS and authentication. Customizing settings can lead to more efficient pipeline execution, which is crucial for larger projects.

For instance, you might want to adjust the concurrency levels or specify certain environment variables that are unique to your project’s needs. Here’s a simple list of advanced configuration options you might consider:

  • Setting maximum job timeout limits
  • Defining custom environment variables
  • Configuring cache settings for faster builds
  • Enabling or disabling debug tracing
  • Applying rules for job artifacts expiration

Remember, while tweaking these settings, always keep an eye on the balance between performance and resource consumption. Over-optimization can lead to other issues down the line.

Be aware that some configuration variables, such as those related to DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing), are subject to deprecation and updates. It’s important to stay informed about the latest changes in GitLab releases to avoid any breaking changes in your CI/CD process.

Running GitLab Runner in Docker

Running GitLab Runner in Docker

Docker Prerequisites

Before diving into running GitLab Runner within Docker, it’s crucial to ensure that your environment meets all the necessary prerequisites. Docker must be installed and running on the host machine. This is a fundamental requirement as GitLab Runner will operate in containers. Additionally, you should have a basic understanding of Docker concepts such as images, containers, and Dockerfiles.

To streamline your CI/CD pipeline, consider setting up a private Docker registry. This allows for efficient distribution of Docker images among your GitLab runners. Remember, the Docker Registry itself is a Docker image and requires a configured Docker engine to run.

Ensure that Docker Layer Caching is enabled to optimize build times and resource usage.

Lastly, familiarize yourself with the security aspects of Docker and GitLab CI/CD, such as managing secrets and using tools like kaniko for building Docker images without a full Docker daemon.

Launching the GitLab Runner Container

Once you have Docker installed and configured on your system, launching a GitLab Runner container is straightforward. Ensure your Docker daemon is running, and execute the following command to start the GitLab Runner container:

docker run -d --name gitlab-runner --restart always \
    -v /srv/gitlab-runner/config:/etc/gitlab-runner \
    -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \

This command will download the latest version of GitLab Runner, create a container named gitlab-runner, and set it to restart automatically. The volumes are mounted to persist the configuration and to allow the container to use the host’s Docker daemon, respectively.

Remember to replace /srv/gitlab-runner/config with the path to your configuration directory on the host machine.

After launching the container, you can manage the GitLab Runner through Docker commands. For example, to stop the runner, use docker stop gitlab-runner, and to start it again, use docker start gitlab-runner. It’s essential to keep your configuration files up to date and secure, as they contain sensitive information.

Managing Runner as a Docker Service

When running GitLab Runner as a Docker service, you gain the flexibility of containerized environments along with ease of management. Docker ensures isolation of jobs and provides a clean state for each run, which is crucial for consistent build results. To manage your runner effectively, familiarize yourself with Docker commands and the GitLab Runner’s own command-line interface.

  • Start the runner service with docker run or docker-compose up.
  • Stop the runner service using docker stop followed by the container name or ID.
  • Restart the runner service with docker restart to apply configuration changes or updates.

Remember to monitor your Docker services regularly to ensure they are running as expected and to apply updates as necessary.

For scalability, consider using Docker’s built-in orchestration features, such as Docker Swarm or Kubernetes, to handle multiple runners. This approach allows you to scale out your CI/CD infrastructure to meet the demands of your development workflow.

Restarting GitLab Runner

Restarting GitLab Runner

Identifying When a Restart is Needed

Knowing when to restart your GitLab Runner is crucial for maintaining a smooth CI/CD pipeline. A restart is typically required when configuration changes are made, such as updating the concurrent jobs setting or modifying the executor type. These changes are often done to enhance job execution efficiency by setting up appropriate tags and runners.

Here are common scenarios that necessitate a GitLab Runner restart:

  • After editing the GitLab Runner configuration file.
  • When the Runner is not picking up jobs or is stuck in a pending state.
  • To apply updates or patches that affect the Runner’s operation.
  • If the Runner experiences unexpected behavior or errors that cannot be resolved through other means.

Remember, a restart is a quick way to refresh the Runner’s state and apply new settings. However, it should not be used as a substitute for proper troubleshooting and maintenance.

Before initiating a restart, ensure that no critical jobs are running, as a restart will interrupt any ongoing processes. Always verify that the changes made to the configuration are valid and that the Runner is properly registered with the GitLab instance.

Restarting via Command Line

When your GitLab Runner seems unresponsive or you’ve made changes that require a restart, the command line is your go-to tool. Restarting the GitLab Runner service is straightforward and can be done using the system’s init scripts. For instance, on a Linux system with an init daemon, you can use the following commands:

  • For GitLab itself: sudo service gitlab restart
  • For Redis: sudo /etc/init.d/redis restart
  • For the SSH daemon: sudo /etc/init.d/sshd restart

Remember, the exact command may vary depending on your system’s configuration and the executor you are using. It’s essential to ensure that all components of the GitLab Runner are restarted to avoid partial service restoration.

It’s a good practice to perform a sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure after restarting services to apply any configuration changes made.

Always verify the status of the GitLab Runner service post-restart to confirm that it’s running as expected. You can do this by executing sudo gitlab-ctl status or checking the GitLab Runner’s web interface.

Automating Runner Restarts

To ensure high availability and seamless CI/CD workflows, automating the restart of your GitLab Runner can be a crucial step. Automating restarts minimizes downtime and intervention when updates or failures occur. One method to automate restarts is by using a cron job on Linux systems. This can be set up to check the status of the runner and initiate a restart if it’s not running.

For Docker-based runners, leveraging the --restart flag when starting a container is an effective strategy. It ensures that the container restarts automatically if it exits, regardless of the exit reason. Here’s a simple cron job example that checks and restarts the GitLab Runner every hour:

0 * * * * /usr/local/bin/gitlab-runner status || /usr/local/bin/gitlab-runner restart

Remember, while automation is helpful, it’s also important to monitor your runners and investigate the underlying causes of any frequent restarts to maintain a robust CI/CD pipeline.

Troubleshooting Common GitLab Runner Issues

Troubleshooting Common GitLab Runner Issues

Diagnosing Runner Failures

When a GitLab Runner fails, it’s crucial to approach the problem systematically. Start by checking the runner’s status with the gitlab-runner status command to ensure it’s active. If the runner is inactive, review the logs for any error messages that could indicate the cause of the failure. Common issues include misconfiguration, network problems, or insufficient permissions.

Next, verify the runner’s configuration file. It’s often the case that a small typo or incorrect setting can prevent the runner from operating correctly. Ensure that the executor is properly set and that all paths and environment variables are correct. If you’ve recently changed the configuration, consider rolling back to a previous version that worked.

For more complex issues, refer to the GitLab documentation or community forums. The following list outlines some key areas to investigate:

  • Executor-specific errors
  • Network connectivity
  • Resource limitations
  • Runner version compatibility

Remember, a methodical approach to troubleshooting can save time and prevent unnecessary changes to your CI/CD setup.

Resolving Executor-Specific Problems

When working with GitLab Runner, you may encounter issues that are specific to the executor you’re using. Identifying the root cause is crucial for resolving these problems effectively. For instance, Docker-related issues might stem from container configuration, while SSH executor problems could relate to network connectivity or authentication.

Executor-specific issues can often be resolved by consulting the official documentation or community forums. Below is a list of common executors and some troubleshooting tips:

  • Docker: Check for image availability and Docker daemon issues.
  • SSH: Verify host accessibility and SSH key permissions.
  • Shell: Ensure the correct shell is being used and environment variables are set.
  • Kubernetes: Look for misconfigurations in pod templates and service accounts.

Remember, each executor has its own set of nuances. Tailoring your troubleshooting approach to the specific executor can save you time and prevent unnecessary frustration.

If you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to the GitLab community or seek professional support. A collaborative effort can often illuminate solutions that may not be immediately apparent.

Handling Registration Errors

When registering your GitLab Runner, you might encounter errors that prevent successful registration. Understanding the cause of these errors is crucial to resolving them and ensuring your runner can communicate with GitLab. Here are common steps to troubleshoot registration issues:

  • Verify the registration token is correct and has not been deprecated.
  • Ensure the GitLab instance URL is accurate.
  • Check for any network connectivity issues that may block communication with the GitLab server.
  • Review the GitLab Runner logs for specific error messages.

Remember, registration tokens and certain runner configuration arguments are being phased out in favor of authentication tokens. This change will be fully implemented by GitLab 18.0.

If you’re using the REST API for registration, be aware that the support for registration tokens is deprecated. The relevant endpoints will return an HTTP 410 Gone status code in future GitLab versions, indicating that the feature is no longer available. For interactive mode registration, ensure you have all the required information on hand, such as the GitLab instance URL and the registration token.

Securing Your GitLab Runner

Securing Your GitLab Runner

Implementing Best Security Practices

Ensuring the security of your GitLab Runner is crucial to protect your CI/CD pipeline from unauthorized access and potential threats. Enforce two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of security for user accounts. This measure significantly reduces the risk of compromised credentials leading to unauthorized access.

Hardening your GitLab Runner environment involves a series of steps to strengthen its security posture. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Regularly rotate secrets of third-party integrations to prevent unauthorized use of stale credentials.
  • Respond promptly to security incidents to minimize potential damage.
  • Implement application, CI/CD, and operating system recommendations to ensure all components are secure.

It’s essential to review and update security measures regularly to address new vulnerabilities and enhance protection.

Administering users effectively is also a key aspect of security. Make sure to:

  1. Verify the identity of users and require email verification for account creation.
  2. Reset passwords and unlock user accounts as needed, while keeping a close eye on abuse reports and spam logs.
  3. Manage file uploads with care to prevent the storage of potentially harmful content.

Managing Runner Access and Permissions

Proper management of runner access and permissions is crucial to maintain the security and efficiency of your CI/CD pipeline. Administrators have the flexibility to register runners for individual projects or across multiple projects. For instance, a shared runner can be registered in the Admin Area and made available to all projects within a GitLab instance. Conversely, a project runner is specific to a single project and can be registered by a user with the Maintainer role through the project’s settings.

When configuring runner access levels, you can use various flags such as --locked, --access-level, and --run-untagged to control job execution and runner behavior. It’s important to review and adjust these settings to align with your project’s needs and security policies.

Remember to regularly audit runner permissions and access to ensure that only authorized entities can execute jobs and access sensitive data.

Here’s a quick reference for runner registration commands and their access-related flags:

Command Flag Description
--locked Locks the runner to current project
--access-level Sets the access level of the runner
--run-untagged Allows the runner to execute untagged jobs
--maximum-timeout Sets the maximum job timeout
--paused Pauses the runner
--tag-list Tags the runner for specific job types

By carefully managing runner access and permissions, you can enhance the security and performance of your CI/CD operations.

Updating and Patching Runners

Keeping your GitLab runners up-to-date is not just about accessing the latest features; it’s also about maintaining security and stability within your CI/CD pipelines. Regular updates and patches are essential to ensure that your runners are protected against vulnerabilities and are running optimally.

To update your GitLab runner, follow these general steps:

  1. Check the current version of your runner.
  2. Review the release notes for the new version to understand the changes and improvements.
  3. Perform a backup of your runner’s configuration and data.
  4. Update the runner using your package manager or by downloading the latest binary.
  5. Restart the runner to apply the changes.

Remember, before updating, always verify compatibility with your GitLab instance, especially if there are breaking changes announced in the release notes.

It’s important to be aware of the deprecation schedule and plan your updates accordingly. For instance, changes to the runner registration tokens and the introduction of a new GitLab Runner token architecture are on the horizon. These updates will require attention to ensure a smooth transition.

Maintaining and Upgrading GitLab Runner

Maintaining and Upgrading GitLab Runner

Routine Maintenance Tasks

Maintaining your GitLab Runner is crucial to ensure it continues to automate testing and deployment efficiently. Regular maintenance checks help in keeping the runner optimized for CI/CD processes and can prevent potential issues from escalating. Perform routine cleanups and updates to keep your runner in top condition.

  • Review and update cleanup policies to manage disk space effectively.
  • Verify permissions and roles to maintain security and access controls.
  • Check for updates in dependencies and apply them to avoid vulnerabilities.
  • Ensure compatibility across updates to prevent disruptions in your CI/CD pipeline.

Remember, a well-maintained GitLab Runner is key to a smooth and efficient software development process.

By incorporating these tasks into your maintenance schedule, you can help your GitLab Runner remain reliable and ready for any task. Whether you’re using it in a traditional environment or with Docker, these practices are essential for long-term success.

Upgrading to the Latest Version

Once you’ve successfully upgraded to the latest version of GitLab Runner, it’s crucial to verify that the runner operates as expected. Ensure all systems are running smoothly by conducting a series of tests to confirm that your CI/CD pipelines are executing without issues. Regularly check the GitLab release page for any patch versions or updates that might affect your runner’s performance.

After upgrading, take a moment to review the changes and deprecations in the new version. This can prevent potential disruptions caused by outdated configurations or deprecated features.

To maintain a stable and secure CI/CD environment, adhere to the following best practices:

  • Monitor the GitLab Runner’s performance and logs for unusual activity.
  • Schedule regular updates to keep up with the latest security patches.
  • Review and apply configuration changes that come with new releases.
  • Stay informed about GitLab’s deprecation policy to avoid using obsolete features.

Decommissioning Old Runners

When the time comes to retire an old GitLab Runner, it’s crucial to follow a systematic approach to ensure a smooth transition and maintain the integrity of your CI/CD pipeline. First, ensure that no jobs are currently running or queued on the runner you intend to decommission. You can do this by pausing the runner in the GitLab UI or by adjusting the runner’s tags to prevent it from picking up new jobs.

Next, remove the runner from your GitLab instance. This involves revoking the runner’s registration token to prevent it from communicating with your GitLab server. Remember that as of GitLab 15.6, the process for managing registration tokens and server-side runner arguments has changed, with a breaking change scheduled for GitLab 17.0.

It’s important to clean up any residual data or cache left by the runner. As noted in a user discussion, the build cache is kept indefinitely but can be safely deleted as it will be recreated when needed.

Finally, update your documentation and inform your team about the decommissioning to avoid confusion. If you’re replacing the old runner, ensure that the new one is registered and fully operational before completely shutting down the old one.


In this guide, we’ve walked through the essential steps to restart a GitLab Runner, from understanding its role in the CI/CD pipeline to executing the necessary commands for different installation types. Whether you’re working with a Docker container or a Linux package, the process is straightforward when you follow the outlined instructions. Remember, keeping your GitLab Runner up-to-date and properly configured is crucial for maintaining an efficient and reliable CI/CD process. If you encounter any issues or have further questions, the GitLab documentation and community forums are valuable resources for support and additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a GitLab Runner?

GitLab Runner is a core service that runs jobs and sends the results back to GitLab. It’s an open-source project that is integrated with GitLab CI/CD to coordinate testing.

How do I install GitLab Runner on Linux?

To install GitLab Runner on Linux, you need to add the official GitLab repository and then install it using your system’s package manager. For Debian-based systems, you can use ‘curl’ to download the installation script and then install it with ‘apt-get’.

How do I register a new GitLab Runner?

To register a new GitLab Runner, obtain a registration token from your GitLab instance and run the ‘gitlab-runner register’ command. Follow the prompts to enter the GitLab instance URL and the registration token.

What are the system requirements for GitLab Runner?

System requirements for GitLab Runner vary based on the executor type you choose. Generally, it requires a modern Linux distribution with Docker installed if you’re using Docker as an executor.

How can I run GitLab Runner inside a Docker container?

To run GitLab Runner inside a Docker container, use the ‘docker run’ command with the appropriate volumes and restart policies set. Ensure you have Docker installed and permissions to launch Docker applications on your system.

What are the different types of executors in GitLab Runner?

GitLab Runner supports multiple executors such as Shell, Docker, and Kubernetes. Each executor defines how the jobs are executed, and you can choose one based on your project requirements and environment setup.

How do I restart a GitLab Runner?

To restart a GitLab Runner, use the appropriate command for your system. For instance, on Linux, you can use ‘gitlab-runner restart’ or manage the service using ‘systemctl’ if it’s installed as a system service.

What should I do if my GitLab Runner is not working?

If your GitLab Runner is not working, diagnose the issue by checking the logs, ensuring it’s properly registered, and verifying the configuration. Address any executor-specific problems and consult the official documentation for troubleshooting tips.

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