Digital Ocean and Docker Machine test environment

Warning. This guide is for quickly testing different versions of GitLab and

not recommended for ease of future upgrades or keeping the data you create.

Initial setup

In this guide you'll configure a Digital Ocean droplet and set up Docker locally on either macOS or Linux.

On macOS

Install Docker Toolbox


On Linux

Install Docker Engine


Install Docker Machine


The rest of the steps are identical for macOS and Linux

Create new docker host

  1. Login to Digital Ocean
  2. Generate a new API token at

This command will create a new DO droplet called gitlab-test-env-do that will act as a docker host.

Note: 4GB is the minimum requirement for a Docker host that will run more then one GitLab instance

  • RAM: 4GB
  • Name: gitlab-test-env-do
  • Driver: digitalocean

Set the DO token - Replace the string below with your generated token

export DOTOKEN=cf3dfd0662933203005c4a73396214b7879d70aabc6352573fe178d340a80248

Create the machine

docker-machine create \
  --driver digitalocean \
  --digitalocean-access-token=$DOTOKEN \
  --digitalocean-size "4gb" \

Creating GitLab test instance

Connect your shell to the new machine

In this example we'll create a GitLab EE 8.10.8 instance.

First connect the docker client to the docker host you created previously.

eval "$(docker-machine env gitlab-test-env-do)"

You can add this to your ~/.bash_profile file to ensure the docker client uses the gitlab-test-env-do docker host

Create new GitLab container

  • HTTP port: 8888
  • SSH port: 2222
    • Set gitlab_shell_ssh_port using --env GITLAB_OMNIBUS_CONFIG
  • Hostname: IP of docker host
  • Container name: gitlab-test-8.10
  • GitLab version: EE 8.10.8-ee.0
Setup container settings
export SSH_PORT=2222
export HTTP_PORT=8888
export VERSION=8.10.8-ee.0
export NAME=gitlab-test-8.10
Create container
docker run --detach \
--env GITLAB_OMNIBUS_CONFIG="external_url 'http://$(docker-machine ip gitlab-test-env-do):$HTTP_PORT'; gitlab_rails['gitlab_shell_ssh_port'] = $SSH_PORT;" \
--hostname $(docker-machine ip gitlab-test-env-do) \
--name $NAME \

Connect to the GitLab container

Retrieve the docker host IP
docker-machine ip gitlab-test-env-do
# example output:
Execute interactive shell/edit configuration
docker exec -it $NAME /bin/bash
# example commands
root@192:/# vi /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb
root@192:/# gitlab-ctl reconfigure