Geo configuration

Configuring a new secondary node

Note: This is the final step in setting up a secondary Geo node. Stages of the setup process must be completed in the documented order. Before attempting the steps in this stage, complete all prior stages.

The basic steps of configuring a secondary node are to:

  • Replicate required configurations between the primary node and the secondary nodes.
  • Configure a tracking database on each secondary node.
  • Start GitLab on each secondary node.

You are encouraged to first read through all the steps before executing them in your testing/production environment.

Note: Do not set up any custom authentication for the secondary nodes. This will be handled by the primary node. Any change that requires access to the Admin Area needs to be done in the primary node because the secondary node is a read-only replica.

Step 1. Manually replicate secret GitLab values

GitLab stores a number of secret values in the /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json file which must be the same on all nodes. Until there is a means of automatically replicating these between nodes (see issue #3789), they must be manually replicated to the secondary node.

  1. SSH into the primary node, and execute the command below:

    sudo cat /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json

    This will display the secrets that need to be replicated, in JSON format.

  2. SSH into the secondary node and login as the root user:

    sudo -i
  3. Make a backup of any existing secrets:

    mv /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json.`date +%F`
  4. Copy /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json from the primary node to the secondary node, or copy-and-paste the file contents between nodes:

    sudo editor /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json
    # paste the output of the `cat` command you ran on the primary
    # save and exit
  5. Ensure the file permissions are correct:

    chown root:root /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json
    chmod 0600 /etc/gitlab/gitlab-secrets.json
  6. Reconfigure the secondary node for the change to take effect:

    gitlab-ctl reconfigure
    gitlab-ctl restart

Step 2. Manually replicate the primary node’s SSH host keys

GitLab integrates with the system-installed SSH daemon, designating a user (typically named git) through which all access requests are handled.

In a Disaster Recovery situation, GitLab system administrators will promote a secondary node to the primary node. DNS records for the primary domain should also be updated to point to the new primary node (previously a secondary node). Doing so will avoid the need to update Git remotes and API URLs.

This will cause all SSH requests to the newly promoted primary node to fail due to SSH host key mismatch. To prevent this, the primary SSH host keys must be manually replicated to the secondary node.

  1. SSH into the secondary node and login as the root user:

    sudo -i
  2. Make a backup of any existing SSH host keys:

    find /etc/ssh -iname ssh_host_* -exec cp {} {}.backup.`date +%F` \;
  3. Copy OpenSSH host keys from the primary node:

    If you can access your primary node using the root user:

    # Run this from the secondary node, change `<primary_node_fqdn>` for the IP or FQDN of the server
    scp root@<primary_node_fqdn>:/etc/ssh/ssh_host_*_key* /etc/ssh

    If you only have access through a user with sudo privileges:

    # Run this from your primary node:
    sudo tar --transform 's/.*\///g' -zcvf ~/geo-host-key.tar.gz /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*_key*
    # Run this from your secondary node:
    scp <user_with_sudo>@<primary_node_fqdn>:geo-host-key.tar.gz .
    tar zxvf ~/geo-host-key.tar.gz -C /etc/ssh
  4. On your secondary node, ensure the file permissions are correct:

    chown root:root /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*_key*
    chmod 0600 /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*_key*
  5. To verify key fingerprint matches, execute the following command on both nodes:

    for file in /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*_key; do ssh-keygen -lf $file; done

    You should get an output similar to this one and they should be identical on both nodes:

    1024 SHA256:FEZX2jQa2bcsd/fn/uxBzxhKdx4Imc4raXrHwsbtP0M root@serverhostname (DSA)
    256 SHA256:uw98R35Uf+fYEQ/UnJD9Br4NXUFPv7JAUln5uHlgSeY root@serverhostname (ECDSA)
    256 SHA256:sqOUWcraZQKd89y/QQv/iynPTOGQxcOTIXU/LsoPmnM root@serverhostname (ED25519)
    2048 SHA256:qwa+rgir2Oy86QI+PZi/QVR+MSmrdrpsuH7YyKknC+s root@serverhostname (RSA)
  6. Verify that you have the correct public keys for the existing private keys:

    # This will print the fingerprint for private keys:
    for file in /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*_key; do ssh-keygen -lf $file; done
    # This will print the fingerprint for public keys:
    for file in /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*; do ssh-keygen -lf $file; done
    Note: The output for private keys and public keys command should generate the same fingerprint.
  7. Restart sshd on your secondary node:

    # Debian or Ubuntu installations
    sudo service ssh reload
    # CentOS installations
    sudo service sshd reload

Step 3. Add the secondary node

  1. SSH into your GitLab secondary server and login as root:

    sudo -i
  2. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb and add a unique name for your node. You will need this in the next steps:

    # The unique identifier for the Geo node.
    gitlab_rails['geo_node_name'] = '<node_name_here>'
  3. Reconfigure the secondary node for the change to take effect:

    gitlab-ctl reconfigure
  4. Visit the primary node’s Admin Area > Geo (/admin/geo/nodes) in your browser.
  5. Click the New node button. Add secondary node
  6. Fill in Name with the gitlab_rails['geo_node_name'] in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb. These values must always match exactly, character for character.
  7. Fill in URL with the external_url in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb. These values must always match, but it doesn’t matter if one ends with a / and the other doesn’t.
  8. Do NOT check the This is a primary node checkbox.
  9. Optionally, choose which groups or storage shards should be replicated by the secondary node. Leave blank to replicate all. Read more in selective synchronization.
  10. Click the Add node button to add the secondary node.
  11. SSH into your GitLab secondary server and restart the services:

    gitlab-ctl restart

    Check if there are any common issue with your Geo setup by running:

    gitlab-rake gitlab:geo:check
  12. SSH into your primary server and login as root to verify the secondary node is reachable or there are any common issue with your Geo setup:

    gitlab-rake gitlab:geo:check

Once added to the admin panel and restarted, the secondary node will automatically start replicating missing data from the primary node in a process known as backfill. Meanwhile, the primary node will start to notify each secondary node of any changes, so that the secondary node can act on those notifications immediately.

Make sure the secondary node is running and accessible. You can login to the secondary node with the same credentials as used for the primary node.

Step 4. Enabling Hashed Storage

Using Hashed Storage significantly improves Geo replication. Project and group renames no longer require synchronization between nodes.

  1. Visit the primary node’s Admin Area > Settings > Repository (/admin/application_settings/repository) in your browser.
  2. In the Repository storage section, check Use hashed storage paths for newly created and renamed projects.

Step 5. (Optional) Configuring the secondary node to trust the primary node

You can safely skip this step if your primary node uses a CA-issued HTTPS certificate.

If your primary node is using a self-signed certificate for HTTPS support, you will need to add that certificate to the secondary node’s trust store. Retrieve the certificate from the primary node and follow these instructions on the secondary node.

Step 6. Enable Git access over HTTP/HTTPS

Geo synchronizes repositories over HTTP/HTTPS, and therefore requires this clone method to be enabled. Navigate to Admin Area > Settings (/admin/application_settings/general) on the primary node, and set Enabled Git access protocols to Both SSH and HTTP(S) or Only HTTP(S).

Step 7. Verify proper functioning of the secondary node

Your secondary node is now configured!

You can login to the secondary node with the same credentials you used for the primary node. Visit the secondary node’s Admin Area > Geo (/admin/geo/nodes) in your browser to check if it’s correctly identified as a secondary Geo node and if Geo is enabled.

The initial replication, or ‘backfill’, will probably still be in progress. You can monitor the synchronization process on each Geo node from the primary node’s Geo Nodes dashboard in your browser.

Geo dashboard

If your installation isn’t working properly, check the troubleshooting document.

The two most obvious issues that can become apparent in the dashboard are:

  1. Database replication not working well.
  2. Instance to instance notification not working. In that case, it can be something of the following:
    • You are using a custom certificate or custom CA (see the troubleshooting document).
    • The instance is firewalled (check your firewall rules).

Please note that disabling a secondary node will stop the synchronization process.

Please note that if git_data_dirs is customized on the primary node for multiple repository shards you must duplicate the same configuration on each secondary node.

Point your users to the “Using a Geo Server” guide.

Currently, this is what is synced:

  • Git repositories.
  • Wikis.
  • LFS objects.
  • Issues, merge requests, snippets, and comment attachments.
  • Users, groups, and project avatars.

Selective synchronization

Geo supports selective synchronization, which allows admins to choose which projects should be synchronized by secondary nodes. A subset of projects can be chosen, either by group or by storage shard. The former is ideal for replicating data belonging to a subset of users, while the latter is more suited to progressively rolling out Geo to a large GitLab instance.

It is important to note that selective synchronization:

  1. Does not restrict permissions from secondary nodes.
  2. Does not hide project metadata from secondary nodes.
    • Since Geo currently relies on PostgreSQL replication, all project metadata gets replicated to secondary nodes, but repositories that have not been selected will be empty.
  3. Does not reduce the number of events generated for the Geo event log.
    • The primary node generates events as long as any secondary nodes are present. Selective synchronization restrictions are implemented on the secondary nodes, not the primary node.

Git operations on unreplicated repositories

Introduced in GitLab 12.10 for HTTP(S) and in GitLab 13.0 for SSH.

Git clone, pull, and push operations over HTTP(S) and SSH are supported for repositories that exist on the primary node but not on secondary nodes. This situation can occur when:

  • Selective synchronization does not include the project attached to the repository.
  • The repository is actively being replicated but has not completed yet.

Upgrading Geo

See the updating the Geo nodes document.


See the troubleshooting document.